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L’art du hipster

“The reinvention of Verdi’s masterpiece, La Traviata, as sung by world-famous French coloratura soprano Natalie Dessay, is the subject of Philippe Béziat’s thrilling new movie. A modern, minimalist, post-punk approach strips away the opulence and grandiosity associated with operatic productions. Concentrating on director Jean-François Sivadier’s working relationship with Dessay, the film reveals how two great creative minds build the story of a doomed love affair. The stars rehearse in what look like yoga outfits, on a bare stage, with minimal props. The final production, set against a backdrop of sky and clouds, punctuated by a single chandelier, features Violetta and Alfredo (a darkly gorgeous Charles Castronovo) as the very essence of hipster-chic.” [Film Forum]

24 comments

  • norma54 says:

    How AWFUL! Just plain awful!

    • Sedizioso Voce says:

      I agree. I am so very, very tired of the “Director’s Concept” in opera. Will we ever see the end of it? Oh, and by the way, although it doesn’t apply in this case, someone needs to explain to all directors that black and white is NOT a concept!

  • ianw2 says:

    I watched this production on video, and didn’t care for the production (a Traviata without frocks… how groundbreaking) but Dessay was quite good and I always have a soft spot (among other things) for Castronovo, best represented in this Parterre classic:

    http://parterre.com/2008/12/23/and-heaven-and-nature-bling/

  • Camille says:

    “Darkly gorgeous” sure beats the hell out of earthy, strapping & dusky, doesn’t it?
    I am curious.

  • I didn’t care for the production either. Dessay looked like she took her prom dress out for another spin 25 years after she used it. The rest I thought it was just passable.

    The one production I thought was very interesting is one I came across with (I think) Edita Kurzac that is set in modern times and I think Violetta is an actress or a performer of sorts cause I remember the e strand being sung in a backstage area.

    • ianw2 says:

      I did quite admire the stagecraft of the chairs being whipped out of the way of Dessay during Sempre- but again, hardly groundbreaking.

    • Nerva Nelli says:

      Lindoro--

      I think you mean Aleksandra Kurzak, rather than mezzo Edyta Kulczak… though both are good singers!

    • Liana says:

      Lindoro, I think you mean the Treli?ski Traviata; I saw it in Warsaw few months ago with Aleksandra Kurzak. The production looks good and (mostly) makes sense, but I was a bit disappointed but Kurzak’s Violetta. Since she’s been essentially a bel canto singer with very good technique, It would seem that she should have no problems in the first act, whereas the opposite was true -- it was the weakest one. However, she’s a good actress, has stage presence and fit well in the production, the other singers were ok, which all made for a good Traviata, but certainly not one for ages.

      • Cocky Kurwenal says:

        When I saw Kurzak in L’Elisir lately, I was pretty surprised at how her top seems to malfunction these days -- tiny sound that sort of goes backwards, and doesn’t bloom at all, from about top b upwards. When I saw her in Mathilde di Shabran several years ago I remember it being full and blooming properly. Possible, of course, that she was just tired or something. Otherwise it was extremely impressive and enjoyable singing in the L’Elisir.

      • oedipe says:

        Kurzak will be singing Marguerite (in Seattle). Don’t know what to think about it.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    Please just make her go away!

  • antikitschychick says:

    saw the entire performance on youtube and can’t wait to see the documentary!! I agree the production is not groundbreaking but I liked it. I found it kind of charming and most importantly, it did not get in the way of the story and/or music.
    What is groundbreaking however are the performances by the three principles. Dessay is in much better vocal shape than in her NY Traviata runs and her performance is spell-binding…Castronovo was great also; he conveyed a youthful vigor that was very appropriate to the role… and the voice has a nice fluidity between registers a la JDF but with slightly more weight…Ludovic sounded absolutely glorious…he displayed a beautiful round, VERDIAN sound throughout which I thoroughly enjoyed. For those interested, here is the video: (quality is excellent btw)

  • Satisfied says:

    Agreed that the reviewer is utterly obnoxious…but I am quite curious what Dessay is like in rehearsal. Whatever the status of her voice, she is quite the actress.

    • Pelleas says:

      This isn’t a review--it’s promo copy from the Film Forum site, probably a mishmash of the distributor’s description and FF’s own. It’s meant to appeal to the Forum’s usual audience which, for better or worse, is largely hipster film heads.

  • oedipe says:

    Well, I am a fan of Sivadier and I loved this Traviata production, with its understated and very Gallic mixture of cruel irony and gentle compassion, no-nonsense display of human folly and decay, and touches of poetic fantasy. For me, it is subtle food for thought…
    Not groundbreaking? What IS groundbreaking nowadays? Splashy special effects? See-how-trendy-and-shocking-I-can-be? A person’s “groundbreaking” may be another person’s “bore”. Though I will not give specific examples, lest I be deemed repellent by the Parterre established opinion…

    • ianw2 says:

    • No Expert says:

      I suppose something like the Machine….which can literally break the ground.

    • louannd says:

      I would have loved to have finished watching that production by Sivadier but, again, I just can’t get past having to listen to her singing (at that time in her career) I am NOT undermining all of her past great work; some of her early recordings are mind-blowingly fantastic!

  • civoglioandare says:

    Interesting to see all the reactions to this production. I heard that the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) is presenting an HD broadcast of the full Aix-en-Provence festival production this Saturday, April 27th, so I look forward seeing and hearing the full performance with the always great Natalie Dessay.

    If anyone’s interested: