Market Drayton Festival Centre
Just when I thought the entertainment offer in Market Drayton couldn’t get any better, the Festival Centre has made a huge investment in state-of-the-art lighting and sound technology. There could have been no better test than a performance of La Traviata streamed live from the Royal Opera House. The experience surpassed my wildest expectations.
From our first sight of a solitary, morose Violetta, crouched in front of the yet-to-open curtain, to the sordid bedroom in which she breathed her tubercular last, via opulent salon scenes in which the chorus declaimed ‘Let life be filled with joy’ – this was a grippingly acted drama. Verdi’s sublime score and the hugely expressive voices of the leads lifted it to soaring heights.
Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho, playing the Parisian courtesan, gave us unbridled strength and harrowing weakness. She sang so many high notes with a sustained softness that let you hear your own heart thumping. Charles Castronovo as her lover Alfredo brought backbone to their exquisite duets, then melted into mellowness. Plácido Domingo won the audience’s affection as Alfredo’s father, whose manipulative wrath turned to profound regret as he finally hugged the dying Violetta ‘like a daughter’.