St James Theatre 2, Wellington

09/07/2022 - 16/07/2022

Production Details

by Giuseppe Verdi
set to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
Conducted by Hamish McKeich
Directed by Sara Brodie

Presented by Wellington Opera

Immerse yourself in the glamour of Dior’s Paris with Wellington Opera’s production of La Traviata in the newly restored St James Theatre. Be transcended by stunning voices, decadent design and the ultimate operatic night out.

La Traviata is based on La Dame aux camélias, a play by Alexandre Dumas fils, adapted from his own 1848 novel.

From Dame Kerry Prendergast, Chair of the Wellington Opera Trust:

“Welcome Wellingtonians to your very own Wellington Opera! This is our second year. Last year, in the incredibly adverse conditions forced on us by Covid, we gave you a stunning rendition of Don Giovanni. This year it is La Traviata, Verdi’s wonderful but tragic love story, its themes still resonating today.

“The setting of the opera is the faded opulence of 1950’s couture. The actual setting, the newly strengthened, and beautifully redecorated, St James Theatre, will fit this perfectly. You will be some of the first to experience the splendour of this new refurbishment.

“Congratulations to everyone involved in bringing Wellington Opera together. I wish you all the very best for the upcoming season.”

Sung in Italian with English subtitle.

St James Theatre, 77-87 Courtenay Place, Wellington
Sat 9 – Sat 15 Julu 2022
Sat 9 Jul, 7:30pm
Tue 12 Jul, 6:30pm
Thu 14 Jul, 7:30pm
Sat 16 Jul, 7:30pm
Premium: $179.50
A Reserve: $149.50
B Reserve: $119.50
C Reserve: $79.50
Buy Tickets – or phone 04 913 0044

Website: Wellington Opera

Opera , Theatre ,

3 hrs incl. interval. Sat, Tue, Thur, Sat.

Moving and poignant

Review by Elizabeth Kerr 13th Jul 2022

When you stage the world’s most performed opera, you need to bring something special to the production. Wellington Opera achieved that this week, not by exploring fancy production innovations, modern dress or contemporary political references. They drew in the opening night audience, many very familiar with the story of the tragic courtesan Violetta, by complex character development as subtle as I’ve seen in La Traviata. It was an enormously moving and poignant production because we participated so directly in the inner anguish of two of the main roles.

Verdi’s La Traviata stands or falls on the performance of the soprano lead, playing the huge role of Violetta. Emma Pearson sang with brilliance and beauty of tone, using all the lovely timbres of her voice to reveal the many facets of Violetta’s conflicted personality. The coquettish flirt on the surface, the genuine and passionate lover of Alfredo and the lonely and fragile invalid were all marvellously expressed by this consummate opera singer. She owned the stage throughout, her superb singing of the famous ‘Sempre libera’ (Always free) in Act 1 just one of many delights. [More]


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Carefully designed ingenuity

Review by Max Rashbrooke 13th Jul 2022

In Verdi’s La Traviata, the central character, courtesan Violetta Valéry, is battling a bout of tuberculosis – but on Saturday night another illness made its presence felt.

Covid forced the absence of Oliver Sewell, set to play Violetta’s lover, Alfredo Germont. This set off a chain reaction in which his part was sung from one of the lower boxes by young tenor Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono, but acted on stage by a masked-up assistant director Nino Raphael. The role vacated by Fonoti-Fuimaono, Gastone, was, on a similar basis, sung by Xavier Krause and acted by director Sara Brodie. [More]


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Pearson is the heart and soul of this top-notch production

Review by Francesca Emms 13th Jul 2022

La Traviata is the second production for Wellington Opera, who launched with a bang last year with Don Giovanni in the Opera House. This time, the venue is the newly strengthened (and polished to within an inch of its life) St James Theatre, and the production is much more lavish to match.

The grand scale set with a giant revolving mirror, designed by Mark McEntyre, is painted with watercolour flowers, a nod to the opera’s origins, the 1848 novel (and later play) La dame aux camelias by Alexandre Dumas fils.

We are in 1950s Paris and our doomed heroine, Violetta (Emma Pearson) wears couture reminiscent of Dior New Look, as her doctor (Wade Kernot) administers an adrenaline shot into a gartered leg. Director Sara Brodie immediately sets the scene for a very human and character-driven production.

As she should be, Emma Pearson is the heart and soul of La Traviata. While her vocal performance is astounding in its beauty and flawless technique, her characterisation is warm, thoughtful, sympathetic, raw and ultimately heart-breaking. Every moment of her performance is acted with integrity and real humanity.

Due to a dramatic turn of events, understudy Emmanuel Fonoti Fuimaono has been called on to sing Alfredo in place of Oliver Sewell from the side stage, while the assistant director (Nino Raphael) walks the role in a mask. My spies tell me that Sewell sang the dress rehearsal wonderfully, so the disappointment at not seeing him perform is huge. However, Fuimaono more than delivers. This is a young tenor right at the beginning of his career, displaying his marvellous gift with a rare effortlessness and astonishing beauty. It is utterly thrilling to hear him and there is no question that he is destined for a long and successful career.

Phillip Rhodes has enjoyed international success and brings all his experience, gravitas and vocal finesse to the role of Giorgio Germent, although he is perhaps too young to be playing a father in his 50s, if not 60s.

The Wellington Opera Chorus, directed by Michael Vinten, are well rehearsed and solid; many are fresh out of university or finishing their degrees and there are a few more experienced singers dotted among them. They are obviously revelling in the opportunity to perform on the St James stage.

The Wellington Orchestra, conducted by Hamish McKeich were sounding absolutely fantastic – musically this production was top-notch.

Tony di Goldi’s costuming is attractive and complements the pastels of the very French-chic walls. Act 2 has the lovers Violetta and Alfredo looking timeless in stylish neutrals, and Giorgio Germont is the ultimate disrupter, entering the scene in a jarring black suit with Mad Men slicked hair. In the final scene Violetta’s angelic white pyjamas emphasise the sacrifice this so-called “fallen woman” has made for love.

Paul O’Brien’s lighting design is beautiful and poignant, creating feelings of intimacy, frivolity, joy and bleak suffering. His use of the reflection created by the huge revolving mirror made for some particularly satisfying moments.


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