Happy New Year for opera fans
Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Grand Theatre
Final show tomorrow
Local opera has received an auspicious start to 2005 with the staging of La Traviata, featuring strong, professional singers in key roles.
Verdi's popular opera is about Parisian courtesan Violetta Valery, who falls in love and lives with Alfredo Germont until Alfredo's father secretly asks her to leave, in order to save his family's honour.
Violetta, sung and acted capably (after a wobbly start) by Eteri Lamoris in the New Year's Day performance, dominates with searing arias and dramatically meaningful vocal displays. Lamoris has a full, gleaming voice and, at her best, convincingly portrays a worldly woman fiercely in love. The final engaging act sees her portray the last minutes of a woman who wanted life and love but only saw a fleeting glimpse of each.
Luca Lombardo sings Alfredo with a creamy voice, an elegant style and wild-eyed exuberance.
Marcello Lippi, as the elder Germont, is also expressive, especially in the latter part of his great duet with Violetta. The singers of the smaller roles - mainly local artists - do not really impress but perform adequately. The Opera Hong Kong chorus, however, disappoints with weak projection, while the Hong Kong Sinfonietta plays blandly under conductor Joseph Rescigno.
Another participant in the production, the Hong Kong Dance Company, shows off some entertaining dancing in act two.
The opera, jointly presented by Opera Hong Kong (in its first fully staged production since its inception in late 2003) and the government, is traditional but effective.