Setting obscures an otherwise fine ‘Traviata’

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Setting obscures an otherwise fine ‘Traviata’

Opera is supposed to be about grandeur: in its costumes, set designs and dramatic scenes. The theatrical visuals are just as important as the mesmerizing sopranos and majestic baritones. An opera performed in an indoor hall that is more fitting for a pop singer’s concert or a sporting event doesn’t feel like an opera at all.
Surely, Giuseppe Verdi would never approve of his beloved “La Traviata” being performed in a fencing hall at an Olympic-size stadium. But such was the setting on the opening night Tuesday of the Salzburg Opera Festival, which is being held at the Olympic Hall in Olympic Park.
Performed by the Romanian National Opera, “La Traviata” had all the spectacle of a “proper” opera. But once the show began, there were a couple of rude awakenings that prevented pleasant viewing. First, the annoying buzzing tune of the sound system made it almost impossible to hear the libretto (although there were two large screens on the sides of the stage with Korean subtitles), and second, the orchestra stood at the front of the stage, partially obscuring the view of the action on stage. Typically, the orchestra is located in a semi-submerged “pit,” and is barely visible to the audience.
Moreover, the overall atmosphere of the Olympic Hall, with plastic seats that fit well in a sports arena, did not provide a setting in which one could imagine that one were at the actual Salzburg Festival in Austria.
The performance itself appeared flawless ― Nica Constantin, playing the part of Alfredo, performed with the zeal and zest befitting a former winner of the Maria Callas International Competition. It’s a pity that the setting was not as majestic as the singers.
The Romanian National Opera Company will perform “La Traviata,” Georges Bizet’s “Carmen,” and Giacomo Puccini’s “Tosca.” About 100 cast and crew members from the opera company, which dates back 213 years, are performing in Korea for the first time. It includes an impressive troupe of soloists, chorus members, dancers, production artists, lighting technicians, costume designers and stage prop specialists, among others.
During the 15 days of the festival, there will be a total of 19 performances by the Romanian National Opera and five concerto performances by the Ukraine Symphony Orchestra. The event will wrap up on June 30 with a “Feast of Arias” by Susanna Shin, a Korean soloist who trained at the University Mozarteum in Salzburg.

by Choi JIe-ho

The Salzburg Opera Festival will be held at the Olympic Hall of Olympic Park in southeastern Seoul until June 30. “La Traviata” will be performed on Sunday, and June 26 and 27; “Carmen” will be presented tonight, and on June 25, 28, 29 and 30; and “Tosca” will be performed tomorrow and on June 22, 23 and 24. Ticket prices for the operas range from 20,000 won to 230,000 won, while prices for the Ukraine Symphony Orchestra range from 20,000 won to 100,000 won. Performances are at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. on weekdays, at 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays and at 2 and 6 p.m. on Sundays. For information, call (02) 862-2383 or visit
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