Scottish Opera - La Traviata
‘Born to die’ seems a bit of an extreme expression to describe a singer, but for Carmen Giannattasio it appears to fit the bill. Star of tragic opera after tragic opera, the Italian soprano says it’s unfortunate, but, ‘I have died so much in the last ten years. I die every time.’ Set to do so again, Giannattasio is quite the star attraction of Scottish Opera’s new production of Verdi’s heart-breakingly tragic La Traviata. It is her debut with the company, which joins forces with Welsh National Opera to present Scottish director David McVicar’s retelling of one of opera’s most famous stories.
Giannattasio has worked with McVicar in the past and is fulsome in her praise for his work. ‘Everything he does has a sense, a meaning,’ she says, ‘and nothing is ever done for a cheap laugh.’ His new Traviata is set in 19th century France where rich, landed gentry mix with Bohemian artists and courtesans, the most famous being
Violetta, the fallen woman of the opera’s title. It is a role that Giannattasio has played twice before but, ‘This time,’ she says, ‘is the first time of the history of the opera that you really see the love of Alfredo and Violetta. Usually you see them meeting at the beginning and then when she is dying at the end. In this version, you see them and their relationship. It is so beautiful.’
In singing Violetta, the emotions of the piece can be overwhelming. ‘With this character, every time is different – you never know how it is until the end. I have to try to keep it away from my heart, because I’ll start to cry and then can’t go on.’ Audiences, however, can – and almost certainly will – let the tears flow in bucketfuls.
Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Thu 30 Oct, Sat 1 Nov, Fri 6, Sun 8, Thu 12 & Sat 14 Feb; Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 19, Sun 23, Thu 27, Sat 29 Nov