Taking two children, aged 11 and eight, to the opera in an effort to broaden their horizons and wean them off YouTube for two-and-a-hours could have gone either way.
But what a marvellous distraction La Traviata proved to be – and so much more besides.
The skill and professionalism of the singers and orchestra, together with the fast moving plot and great tunes, was captivating enough to win over the most apathetic of hearts.
None of us had been to an opera before and didn’t know what to expect.
Most welcome was the lack of snobbery, which I feared might be a bit overwhelming, and the surtitle screen, which translated the Italian of Verdi’s classic and brought to life the story of tragic high society love and fallen women.
The palatial interior of the Grand Theatre was the perfect setting for the lavish and impressive set of this Ellen Kent production. The ‘stone’ columns, arches and busts on stage blended seamlessly with the Grand’s ornate Victorian splendour.
The opera begins with a party in main character Violetta’s Paris ‘salon’. Both the set and beautiful costumes brought the scene to life – the perfect setting for one of the best drinking songs in history.
Playing the role of tragic Violetta was soprano Alyona Kistenyova, who was always a joy to watch.
The loudest cheer of the evening went to Iurie Gisca, who played Giorgio, the father of Violetta’s love interest, Alfredo. The tone and pacing of Gisca’s baritone voice was always a highlight of a scene.
Vitalii Liskovetskyi was very good as Alfredo, although there were times I couldn’t hear him clearly when several singers were giving it large together. His wig needs attention too.
Another issue was the surtitles stopped working from time to time.
But it was overwhelmingly a great production of a classic opera in a unique venue.
The next day the children were watching YouTube again – but there were some opera highlights in between slime and squishy videos – which must count as some sort of success.