|“VIOLETTA” OF THE REGIO OF TURIN ENCHANTS TOKYO
With eighteen minutes of standing ovation the Regio of Turin conquers Tokyo, and gets ready to move to Shanghai today. Yesterday during the fourth and last performance of “La Traviata”, following an opera concert and three performances of “La bohème”, the audience repeatedly requested to come back onstage not only Gianandrea Noseda and the soloists but all 220 orchestra players, choir members, technicians, managers: those who have contributed to import here Verdi and Puccini. In other words, one of the most precious and beautiful things we Italians are capable of doing—at least when we are not in a self-destructive mode.
Beware: this is not the case of Italian Opera brought to those who don’t have any knowledge of it. Bunka Kaikan is not just one of many musical theatres of Tokyo. It is ‘the’ theatre where ‘the best’ have performed. You just need to take a look at the backstage where every tour has left its own souvenirs, posters, autographs. Habitués are the Met, Vienna, La Scala, Munich and Salzburg. In fact, this is the audience that we would love to have in our theatres. Meanwhile, it pays its best seats 39,000 yen, more or less 350 euro. During the Sunday matinee, this audience sits still, without coughing, speaking, unwrapping sweets: just focused, attentive, prepared. Except for, as we said, reacting in an exploding way at the very end.
Was it real glory? Actually, yes. This Traviata directed by Laurent Pelly did not generate a lot of excitement at the last opening at the Regio. Now we know the reason. In Turin there was an excellent Violetta but in Tokyo there was the ultimate Violetta, the one for whom this production had been conceived in the first place like a cut-to-fit dress that a great fashion designer has especially tailored for his favourite star. Natalie Dessay has been simply extraordinary: there is no aria, no phrase, no accent that was performed less than perfectly. As if it could have been sung and played in that way and only in that way. She is an immense artist.
Her real husband, Laurent Naouri, plays on stage the failed father-in-law: he is not exactly a Verdian baritone but he makes his tormented Germont a great character. Alfredo, as played by Matthew Polenzani, is very reliable and second leads are perfect. Roberto Gabbiani’s choir is excellent. Noseda shares the triumph. He galvanizes the orchestra and alternates fast, Toscaninian relentless rhythms (in the second act finale) to impalpable, implacable sweet lyricism: the duetto between Violetta and Germont senior is a masterpiece. Here’s where the review ends. But maybe we need to reflect upon something. An Italian can certainly feel proud when two thousand Japanese people applaud uninterruptedly to the music composed by the son of an innkeeper of Busseto, while the bad but clever lines of Francesco Maria Piave, translated into Japanese, roll on the sub-titles display. But if you think about the incredible prestige brought to Italy by this art that is so refined and yet can reach everybody, even 10,000 km. away from where it was conceived, then making this art die to save some little money is more than just a mistake: it’s really a crime.