Andrew Garfield, Mahershala Ali, Ruth Negga, and five others received their first-ever acting nominations for 2017. While these actors are new to the Academy Awards, you may recognize them from their earlier work.
Not for everybody, though I found it thought-provoking and moving
This 2003 production is not one of my favourite Traviatas. I admit I grew up on the more visually traditional productions like the 1982 Zeffirelli film, and it is an approach I do prefer. The production is good though, but I did have some reservations about it. Although I understood the concept just fine, and thought it was a brilliant unique one to work with(a metaphysical-like setting with Violetta present in every scene as in real-life or as a memory), I did find the sets and lighting rather sparse and cold. That may be just me though as as I've said I am more a traditional person myself. As impressive as Matthew Polenzani is vocally as Alfredo, as an actor he is uneven. He shines in his arias and at the end of Act 2, but I wasn't moved or thrilled by him, and felt his chemistry with Delunsch lacked sensuality. Especially when compared to the chemistry of Delunsch's Violetta and Lucic's Germont, which had more sexual tension, which in all honesty not only disturbed me but also if the director Peter Mussbach was trying to echo the love triangle from Tristan Und Isolde. However, the costumes were interesting, with Violetta made to look like Marilyn Monroe, the orchestral playing is full of beauty and pathos, the conducting is suitably nuanced and the chorus well balanced. The sound is a little boxed, but at least the emotional impact of the score was still there, and there was a crisp efficiency between everybody involved musically and on stage which I loved. Mireille Delunsch could have perhaps done with more girlish naivety, but overall the interpretation as Violetta is very expressive and fragile complete with a beautiful voice. Zeljko Lucic is an outstanding Germont, stern and sympathetic in demeanour, and while a little dry at the top his singing is powerful and very musical. The supporting cast are well characterised, nobody is really that much hindered by the production, which is more than I can say for the very recent Met production with Dessay as Violetta. Overall, thought-provoking with a unique concept and moving, especially in the heartbreaking final act. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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