15.10.20 La Traviata, the fallen woman who rose to musical stardom News Image
La Traviata | 17.10.2015 | Act 2 | Teatru tal-Opra Aurora | Photo by Shaun Sultana

Piave’s La Traviata, as set to immortal music by Verdi, speaks of a fallen woman – a woman who throws a party for what seemed like a cure from an illness, but has a health that is gradually and constantly failing her until her last breath. However, if Violetta’s health was a downward slope, Elena Mosuc’s performance was an exponential rise to musical stardom (and this, notwithstanding her real-life illness that struck her on the eve of her arrival in Malta!)

Posted: 20th October 2015

Verdi’s all-time favourite returned to the Aurora after 17 years, with a more mature Colin Attard, an ever-more professional Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and a superb cast. The audience that filled a sold-out Aurora Opera House was lucky to witness such a performance by Mosuc. Had the public been aware of how thin the chances of Mosuc’s appearance were, as the Aurora staff had known, the lengthy applauses that followed her notable arias could have easily been extended to minutes, yes, each and every time.

The first rousing applause was collectively earned by all, after the famous Brindisi. This was not simply because it was one of the few moments of glory in the whole opera. Musically and artistically it deserved credit and praise because choir and soloists (dressed up by Francesca Pipi) during the brindisi showed that, for yet another year, the Aurora meant business. No wonder that notable figureheads in the world of arts and culture in Malta were blogging and posting since the first act that: “This is turning out into the best opera production… in Gozo!... nothing but praise for the rich and evocative scenography, for the excellent soprano, the refined tenor... And of course our very own Malta Philharmonic Orchestra! Verdi's musical genius at its very best! Keep up the great work in the coming Acts!” (Catherine Tabone).

Opera in Gozo, particularly opera at the Aurora, is constantly becoming sort of a guaranteed and established yardstick when it comes to singers. Audiences now know what to expect, (or rather what not to worry about). This was constantly confirmed with every solo aria or duet by Mosuc and Stefan Pop starting with Un di, felice, eterea and È Strano!... Ah, Fors'È Lui. The Aurora Opera Chorus simply, yet very graciously, added verve with its fiery choral interlude Si ridesta in ciel l’Aurora. Act 1 was rounded off in style and class – and a spot-on top E flat! – with Mosuc’s Sempre Libera. The only pity here was that the Romanian soprano had to rush for her costume change and could not take the applauses on the curtain, she rightfully deserved.

Act 2 started in a few minutes. While the general physiognomy of the set remained unchanged, because Violetta dragged her past with her, the rich sets by Mutina Eventi lent themselves very effectively for the change from Paris’s Salon to the country house. The peace offered by the countryside and stable love was soon disturbed by the entrance of Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father. Yet, Marzio Giossi’s participation was far from creating a disturbance. Rather, the well-seasoned baritone had a formidable night – a rich voice and mastery acting, he delivered scenic and musical emotions with ease, never overpowering Mosuc or Pop, all the while respecting the superiority complex that the work-dynamics of the characters requested, him being Giorgio, the most senior in age and seniority.

“This is turning out into the best opera production… in Gozo!... nothing but praise for the rich and evocative scenography, for the excellent soprano, the refined tenor... And of course our very own Malta Philharmonic Orchestra! Verdi's musical genius at its very best! Keep up the great work in the coming Acts!”

With Pop’s crystal clear opening De' Miei Bollenti Spiriti, Mosuc’s powerful Amami Alfredo quant’io t’amo and Giossi’s Di Provenza il mar, Act 2 scene 1 was one load of emotions. Anyone who might have been unable to understand the Italian language could still follow the plot, while savoring the sheer quality of anything that stood from the orchestra pit onwards. No wonder applauses were never hesitant or simply moved by protocol.

Then it was time for the long break, which the Aurora management opted to do in between the scenes of Act 2 for better flow and time management, even if the plot and music indicate otherwise. Act 2 Scene 2 opened at Flora’s house with more colour, theatrics… and more emotions. Yada’s input with the matadors and gypsies was a very welcomed one. All the while, the Aurora Opera Chorus ensured a fine and well-blended rendition of the choral parts that come in well-measured doses, but with great substance. Economic in its movements, yet gracefully choreographed, the choir – particularly the central male and female sections respectively – helped construct a visually appealing scene. In this case, particular credit goes to Novella Tabili, who despite her ailment, managed to deliver her production for the large part from the hotel, while her Assistant Producer Lorenzo Giossi (with two local assistants, Stephanie Sultana and Annabelle Zammit) stood in and led the rehearsals for the time she had to be away. Actually, it was also ironic that Lorenzo Giossi (and we say this with a tongue-in-cheek) had to stand his father Marzio rehearsing and singing Dove é mio figlio? (where is my son?) right in his face as the latter did this so convincingly.

La Traviata continued to fall – yet, with grace, not from grace. Supported by the other members of the cast, including Annina (Graziella Debattista) (and earlier on, Alice Marini who debuted in the role of Flora) Verdi’s masterpiece came to a gloriously fatal ending as Violetta painlessly dies in the hands of who loved her truly, Alfredo, not before the final exquisite duet Parigi O Cara.

The Aurora’s Traviata was a living proof that hard work and true passion in one’s art can yield miracles. Eye for detail was clearly evident – from the wardrobe works, led by Celine Debrincat, wigs and make-up, to the set construction (Teddy Mizzi’s and Anthony Buhagiar’s work), illuminated by Donald Camilleri and Charlon Buttigieg. The extended curtain call was indeed a fitting tribute to the main cast together with Stefano Consolini, Alessandro Busi, Luca Gallo, Gianluca Lentini, Ian Grech and David Debono who performed in the supporting roles.

And year in, year out, opera at the Aurora goes up one notch, adding speed, gaining momentum and building resilience. With such a massive success, aptly complemented by the record-breaking audience and its whooping positive feedback, the Aurora holds its head up high and looks at an exciting 2016 that will bring about 2 other great titles set in Seville – The Barber of Seville (by Gaulitanus Choir) in April and Carmen in October.

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