The decadence and glamour of Paris at the turn of the 19th Century is depicted in Alessandro Talevi‘s spiced-up new production of Verdi’s classic tear jerker. I say “spiced-up” because the atmosphere of Violetta’s Act l party scene is more redolent of an orgy in a bordello than the usual deceptively elegant and mannered gathering I have encountered in some productions. Guests in various states of dis-arranged dress (the young men are bare chested apart from scant waistcoats) can be seen in different coital positions moving to the rhythm of the music during Violetta’s celebrated showpiece “Sempre libera”. The audience is left in little doubt by the end of the act as to the nature of Violetta’s calling as a courtesan  – or upmarket prostitute – call her what you will.


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