The Rennes 2013 “La Traviata” Liveblogging Thread

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Welcome to the White Shirt live comment thread for Verdi’s “La Traviata” from Rennes (2013), staged by Jean-Romain Vesperini and under the baton of Antony Hermus.

The cast features:

Myrtò Papatanasiu – Violetta Valéry
Sophie Pondjiclis – Flora Bervoix
Karine Audebert – Annina
Leonardo Caimi – Alfredo Germont
Marzio Giossi – Giorgio Germont
Marlon Soufflet – Gastone
Jean-Vincent Blot – Barone Douphol
Thomas Roullon – Marchese d’Orbigny
Bernard Deletr – Dottor Grenvil

This production is  not readily available online at the moment, but I hope that the announcement has served to fit everyone with a version of the lost YT copy.
Since “Traviata” is likely THE most popular opera of mainstay repertory, have your pick of libretto uploads – there is Italian, English and German here (single choice, web-based), an Italian only pdf here, and English-Italian side-by-side here.

Since it warrants repeating this week: a word of warning. This is a very straight opera (although, you know, if you squinted at Flora the right way, and also, Annina…) There is plenty of male gazing, and inappropriate handling of a female character. And this week, I fear will will not have Py and Petibon to level some open critic at gender roles. But let’s see what Vesperini, Hermus and Papatanasiu have come up with, and remember to keep liquor and tissues at the ready.

276 thoughts on “The Rennes 2013 “La Traviata” Liveblogging Thread”

    1. yea, i revereted to to wrodpress read mode.. whichever it’s called.. so i can comment properly.. main screen is super duper oversized…
      clapping.. oh , watch out, shoulders and back coming right at you!

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  1. Let me use the overture to say thanks, Anik, for the ginger chicken recipe, tried it tonight and it was delicious (well, my daughter started vomiting, but most likely not because of the chicken)

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    1. …I hope it wasn’t the chicken! So sorry.
      but there seems to be another bug going around, both my valkyries are a little under the weather, too and willingly went to bed on time.

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    1. ja, i remembered my 3rd opera ever (1st was Tosca i believed… in Berlin.. when i knew nothing and fell asleep, 2nd was Magic Flute, i also fell asleep…) and was soooo captured by the overture..

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        1. it was early 2000s, this friend just gave me a ticket (without any explanation, i was totally clueless), and i sat in 2nd row, he sat somewhere up, singing in whichever language, no surtitles… for like 3hours.. that was hard..
          Then “magic flute”, i arrived at 5am from overnight Trans-Atlantic flight, and they bought opera tickets😀 , i slept through most of it.. also singing in German, with no explanation… i would not introduce friends to operas like this..

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    1. so, basically, Alfred is one huge whiny fanboy who cannot differentiate between his projection and invading someone’s privacy?

      (personally, I hate the ‘you need someone to protect you, and guess what, that is me’ slant)

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      1. damn straight she did.
        (an of course she still had more reserves there than at the end – there were two lower phrases slipping away a bit in the final scene because she really went into it)

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    1. I’d say more her home turf than the coloratura.
      Which is sculpts/acts the hell out of, but she is not a coloratura soprano. (which, thank God. coloratura Violettas are not my favorite Violettas, I usually find them too lightweight)

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        1. yes
          (though I admit it is also a personal preference thing for me -preferring the lyric with a core takes over the heavily dramatic ones, and both over the light coloratura ones)

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          1. I could go on about that Ah mio cor from here to Christmas and then some – I do, perhaps also because of her looks?, get the impression that her technical level and her very sound musical choices get overlooked.
            Remember that somewhat unfortunate review quoted on her revamped website, that goes on for a lengthy paragraph about her looks and only then looks at the singing/acting?

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          2. am hacking away at Alcina post here while barely being awake.. but even myself i would like to write an entire post just about her “Ah! mio cor” !! i was really impressed with her phrasing.. oh, i know, since i ‘m writing about Ah mio cor right now, i’m just gonna use that as an illustration! JEAH!
            (no, i missed the bit about article.. but i would not be surprised.. it is really ashamed of course, the look business.. even in Agathe’s comment on why she thinks MP got hired for Traviata i originally thought she implied the look too! but i’ve now seen enough.. in fact, after our gathering, i walked to get my milk tea🙂, and was thinking: if it’s between Damrau (Violetta) and MP on the same night in different city, i’d go with MP. In fact, her acting and phrasings are reallly on a level of its own, i’d choose her , and hope that she’s not singing on the same night with..say Harteros or ACA or VK… (they did very nice scheduling in Paris! really wish i could stay for her 2nd DonnaA but judging by the craziness i encountered coming back from Wien i had to make a choice to come back on the 7th…)

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          3. Enjoying your comments over a late lunch. And it’s funny, because on you mentioning my comment here, I first thought “hey no, I meant her voice of course” but thinking further I guess that I additionally felt she succeeds very well in displaying a character that is admired by people, someone Alfredo would fall for at first sight without really knowing her and that is tied to attitude but also, in the end, to her looks. And I agree, that it may be in the way of people focusing on her singing. Remember how I said I liked her better in the Brussels Mitridate because, while she still was very beautiful, she looked a bit less conventional? So yes, total prejudices from my part here, and I have since very much appreciated her musical and acting work, but I guess looks did play a role for me at first impression (probably just jealousy). Actually, I always love discovering new singers from audio alone without knowing their looks, or “type” or whatever but you rarely have the chance for that with looks being so important in the industry.

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          4. I also love the fact that you make a comment like this that in any other forum would likely mean and be read as referring to her looks – all that pale, dark-haired, slender 19th century aesthetic – and here, everyone immediately understands it as relating to the voice and the acting.🙂

            It’s an interesting subplot – the “portraying someone who is admired”, perhaps as in “someone who draws attention/commands space”? Because I think that is also acting technique, and I would absolutely confirm that for the Vienna Alcina.

            Sicovering aingers on audio early is really getting more difficult, especially since we tend to get HD broadcass instead of radio boradcasts these days – I should to that more again, shake up the idea of imagined bodies again.

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          5. I know I am repeating myself here, but: I am so bummed I am going to miss the Paris December meeting of ACA/MP.

            If you ask me to choose between Damrau and MP, I’d arrive at the same answer because of how Papatanasiu tends to – that is my impression – look behind the text she works with to then transport it. Damrau is technically amazing, but she doesn’t give me that vibe of looking at things analytically in a way of channeling it through her very body.

            Also – and I should turn this into a Tweet – that is one thing I love about our liveblogs: We watch a mainstream 19th century show with an admittedly rather attractive lead, I suppose, and yet: other than a few very scattered comments on a dress/hairstyle or a late throaway line about deltoids, we talk 99% about Papatanasiu’s interpretation in regards of singing and acting choices, and not about her looks. Which both says something about her work as an artist – no self-staging for looks – but also about our viewing stance.

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    1. probably over thinking how good that dress could have looked in matte.😉

      No, seriously: I wouldn’t put it past her, with her approach.

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        1. but I am sure we can think of something where she could star opposite Spyres again – didn’t she say she might go into the heavier Donizetti/Bellini in the upcoming years?

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      1. Thought about this again in a night of very fitful sleep – and it is perhaps what rubs me wrong about this staging (while there are parts I like, I think overall the big arcs of Violetta/Germont and Violetta/Alfredo were done very well) is the quoting of micro texts, which shows that there is an awareness of some of the undercurrents, but there is just that: illustrative quotes, no stance and no commitment.
        Of course I joke about Annina (I generally do), but even though the reference a masculinzed attire – for 1920s/1930s Paris, I mean HELLO Left Bank! – there is not even one decidedly wistful look of Annina. And that would have been enough to give the quoting of queer imagery a bit of weight.

        I also don’t think the fascist angle – which is an intriguing choice particularly when it comes the Germont vs Alfredo, and does bourgeois masculinity brood protofascism? – was sufficiently fleshed out or framed. Another quoting of a text, but no clear connection or positioning.

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      2. And some more thoughts on this:
        Of course it could be a staging choice to have a visibly queer-coded character be among the few to not fetishize Violetta, but be there for her in some “network of women”, but that might give the staging a little too much credit?
        (It also falls into the ‘desexualization of women’ trope, but the opposing ‘sinister lesbian predator’ might be even worse)

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  2. Alfie is SO in over his head.
    “but *I* need to pay the bills!” (UGH)

    But watching Traviata again brings back so many memories – I used to live on this as a teenager and thought it was so romantic (probably that’s why it irks me so much more. I still feel duped that I swallowed all that misogyny and liked it, too) and I had a copy of the 2nd act on tape in particular (my favorite) and could sing along with everything and thought that “Amami Alfredo” was the pinnacle of love (instead of, you know, actually talking to each other and sending the jerks packing). I will probably still cry at that point.

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    1. I think I must have been in my early twenties already when seeing this the first time, a different thing, but I also didn’t question the story much I think.

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      1. I won’t disclose for how long I listened to that tape (I think I still have it, the Cotrubas/Kleiber – another more lyrical choice, but much more with the breathy drama. This one, I might remember for the line command and the lower middle range stance. Didn’t expect that.)

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  3. now is the point where I will need either more booze or the tissues, or both.

    MP, to me, manages to get through this without larmoyance so far, just going all in and keeping it real.

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  4. I like the staging choice of keeping them pretty much apart and in their own bubbles for the duet – the WORST are the “fatherly hug” takes. Those two are not even on the same planet, much less the same sofra.

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  5. There are plenty of intentionally despicable Verdi baritone roles, and plenty of unintentionally despicable tenor parts, but this always reminds me of how Germont is actually the absolute worst.

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      1. kind of heartbroken, but not with her backbone broken. I like it, it gives Violetta more dignity. I usually cannot watch it (not anymore), when she is just getting bashed around without agency.

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    1. Agathe!! You really said it first!?😀

      I mean, of course there are delts, but I think they stood out more in the Mitridate because she looked skinnier this year?
      Not sure when she had her kid (this show is 2013?), but when I remember my muscle work pre-pergnancy, and the year and then two yers afterwards, that was like having three different bodies. Your experiences might have been similar?
      (see, while the baritone drones on about the sea, let me reminiscence about pregnancy and motherhood…)

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      1. You really want to hear about how I got skinny while the babies got really fat? Such “mother talk” also reminds me of the first year where your social circle were mainly other new mums at Pekip or whatever and you think afterwards, “what bland conversations” but actually those baby topics are what’s most on you mind in that phase, so quite natural.

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        1. I was one of the baby mothers who rolled her eyes at Pekip and who went on rants about the post-pregnancy workout group because I swear 80% of the women were so stuck on gender stereotypes (all “how do I get skinny again, giggles” instead of “how does my body feel, and what does it need right now?”), also about their kids, that it drove me up the wall.😉

          “Mother talk” is valid. I think our epxeriences might be somewhat similar in that aspect – work stress and breastfeeding (one thing I do not miss is milk pump logistics), and in the end, one ends up skinnier than before, and if you look at your supremely well-fed and chubby kid, you kind of know where your energy and body mass went…?

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  6. Another one of those takes where you know that Germont is NOT AT ALL planning on telling Alfie anything of “oh, btw, that prostitute you used to date? She loved you, and I made her leave.”

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    1. hm, the bit after the hammer phrase was a lot more interesting (but I guess the hammer phrase is really for the dramatic ones)

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        1. oh yes, and starting off with how he has her coffin opened a year later because why not treat her like a piece of meat all over again.

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  7. okay, I can get own with the 1920 setting – Flora ruling that pool table and the Marlene drag queen in tailcoats doing her best Josephine Ostrich Baker.

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  8. I SWEAR if this will now descend into “I push her onto the pool table and throw money on top of her” I will hunt down the director and throw down something, too.

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  9. …and Germont walking all in with “please, kid, remember, we pay our prostitutes quietly and IN PRIVATE”. Not sure who is the bigger jerk here.

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  10. At this point, any Violetta should be kind of through with Alfredo anyway – as a real chance, at least. And move onto him as a projection or a memory of the past. If she she still makes apologies for him here, she buys into the whole branding of her.

    (and still that incredulous look she throws here at the retreating Alfredo… *sniffles*)

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      1. So that leaves this open for Annina as agent of the Resistance (captained by Dr T’s aforementioned PP in red). This could all work out if Annina shoots Fascist Alfredo dead on the way out.

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    1. i did think it was staged.. because they knew it would be broadcast live to a wide audience.. for comparison, here is SM with very tears (might be also a good detox after Alcina and Sifare..)

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      1. would be interesting to know!
        (Mingardo, who is used to Baroque pose, I absolutely see sneaking in her glycerine and smiling and cooking coffee and the typewriter… wait, where was I?)

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    1. I almost wrote it, too! (Kind of obvious in that cue there)

      (but it is something I respect in a singer. Headcolds are real and can make you having to cancel, plus you can sell romance differently, too)

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  11. She is kind of not talking with him like she was not talking with Daddy Dearest in Act II – done, and moved on into projection space? Looks like she knows it’s over either way.

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    1. well, it is HIS poor heart that is dying, never mind the escort?!
      the Trapani brass from the is VERY nice here, btw –
      and Violetta already does her own apotheosis.

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        1. thank GOd.

          (interesting choice in an overall rather conservative take, though – she’s already dead anyway? Speaking from beyond the grave? Running off to join the resistance with Annina because she is through with patriarchy?)

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  12. So I still have plenty of issues with Traviata (and I still react to a few core things against better knowledge), but I have no issues with MP’s “strip-it-down-to the-core, approach less-is-more” approach. That honest/sober is perhaps really the only way to sell the part, no matter what setting.

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      1. particularly that bare-curtain Act I finale, but also the balancing the larmoyant setting with a very honest take. (the production went to/came from Lyon, I think? But I don’t know with what cast)

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    1. good night!
      it was very nice getting together again with you two (and Stray!🙂 ) . let us get a Py’s Traviata next time.. wonder if she ‘d ever get to work with him… w/ this being rebroadcast & the various Mitridate, perhaps…

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        1. which means he might still have it on his list. Hm, I don’t think he could do that with PP though (whcih is too bad because getting a look at how PP would do this scenically in terms of agency? That woudl be gold, especially bulding on her Lulu and her Manon)

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      1. The singers are typically restricted by the staging right? If it says “get on the pool table and do pose X, Y, Z”, there’s not much one can do outside of trying to make the best of it within the flow? Either that or you choose (if you have the freedom) who to work with? I remember this interview with ACA, where she said she completely disagreed with the stage director for Carmen, and warned her friends that they’d see a terrible show because she simple was not able to reconcile… and she got booed heavily for it!

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        1. go with the flow if you can, I guess?
          of course, there are ways to get on the pool table into pose X that make a statement on the pool table, but that takes energy, and it’s a really different take on things (more commenting that inside of it)

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        2. Something else I had to think about some more, especially regarding ACA.
          Yes, to a certain degree, you can convey a distance to a certain slant, but it does take a lot of energy, and it goes against the flow, and also affects your colleagues. Most people will try to find a way to fit themselves into a frame – then you have the ‘I follow the libretto/score and don’t judge my role and try to be truthful to their motivations’ approach ( which also costs a lot of energy if you have to work around a concept you oppose. Inner emigration…)
          That said, I could completely see ACA or PP circumventing approaches they oppose, and there is also something to be said for singers who refuse approaches (particularly lazy approaches) that go against their artistic integrity and their knowledge of the part.

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    1. I am not sure I can name it, even, but even with how ‘real’ (and technically well done) her interpretation is here, there is some discomfort about the source material I cannot shake, that 19th century emo torture porn that makes one complicit on gazing at female characters being destroyed for emotional delight… even if Violetta retains agency, like here, I feel like I need to detox.

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      1. It’s possible that some audience involvement, mostly not self-aware, is with the performer trapped in such machines for suffering, working to register vitality while compelled to enact morbidity. Violetta: I am socially determined despite my character. Soprano: I am narratively determined despite my awareness. An earlier Greek soprano made a career out of how difficult it was, to be herself performing. Why suffering rewards attention is a question for psychologists.

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        1. Fascinating point, FF. The difference might be that the outward, conscious staging of public persona has changed radically post ’68, and a second point, though linked to the first, is The Earlier Greek Soprano being staged by press and self-staging through suffering (converging the ostentatious and the supposedly private).

          What you just made me think of: if suffering and reward are linked (or if we have been conditioned to link it), the immersive focus of opera audiences (and creators) and the suffering female is a logical fallout and explains where there is much less breathless immersion when it comes to e.g. Baritones, or even tenors. It also highlights the link between ostracized queers – particularly males – and the diva from a slightly different vantage point.

          Thank you for thought food!

          >

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  13. could i list a few suggestions for the next viewing? This fri, sat, or sun are all good for me. and this wkend is the last i have avail until after xmas! would be really nice we can get together once more?

    i’d really love to watch some ACA… but am might be up for others as well..
    suggestion list:
    1. Agrippina 2000 , Brussels, ACA, Ernman, Jacobs, R.Joshua
    2. L’incoronazione di Poppea, 2004, Paris, ACA, Ciofi, Otter, Jacobs
    3. Medea, 2009, Turin, ACA, Mingardo, Pido
    4. L’incoronazione di Poppea, 1993, Bologna, ACA
    5. Maria Stuarda, la Scala, 2008, ACA, Devia, Gardina
    6. Ariodante, ?, Hallenberg, Nesi
    7. I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Zürich, 2015, JDD
    8. Semele, Zürich, Bartoli

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      1. Will probably both work for me as well (have decided to skip Il Trionfo at Staatsoper to be with my Kids on first Advent Sunday), but I cannot promise 100%, I might suffer from opera overdose after this week. so just go ahead on whichever day fits you both best.

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        1. neat, we’ll set something up and hope you’ll stop by🙂
          I think I could do anything on the lit, except for Medea. I’m afraid enough for my kids (my ‘you’re foreigners here and your parents are queer’ kids) these days and don’t think I could stomach that.
          Poppea would be super-fine with me. Also Agrippina!

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          1. yay, Poppea it is then, with ACA as Nerone! this will us give plenty of opportunity to investigate the vocal range, amongst other fine details.. (i so happy!🙂 )

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          2. (hiding in here, to say happt thanksgiving to you both, and to Stray if she is swinging by to check on sched and ACA.. i have been avoiding the news so far… but eavsdropping in on your convo at larest post.. we re having dinner, 3 germans, 1 spanish, 1 norwegian, 1 vietnamese, very international

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          3. 🙂 For the next White Shirt meeting over here, I will do Serviettenknödel with Semmel, then. Or goulash with spätzle. Or both.🙂

            >

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  14. PS. Sorry to all regulars, but I’ve had to disable Post Likes after the fact since there was porn spam (bad enough as it is, but worse on a post on Traviata…)

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