|Kristina Malinauskaite and Michael Celentano
Although departing early from Verdi's masterpiece La Traviata in the middle of Act II seemed like a dreadful deprivation, in a sense it allowed us to retain the image of a happy love affair that just might possibly work out once Germont père was mollified. Our early departure was not due to any disappointment but rather due to a prior reviewing commitment. Still, we were not going to miss the opportunity to hear soprano Kristina Malinauskaite sing the title role.
Everything was there in the performance--the dignified bearing, the depth of feeling, the brilliant upper register, and above all, the ability to convey the conflict between the high life and the love life. "È strano....fors'è lui" followed by the cabaletta "Sempre libera" illustrated this very effectively. Ms. Malinauskaite had exemplary control over the dynamics and produced a well modulated portamento.
Her duet with Alfredo, portrayed by the appealing tenor Michael Celentano, was quite lovely. Mr. Celentano must be commended for singing off the book, which helped enormously in his connection with the audience. When the divine Ms. M. was off the book, she too grew in connection.
We also liked mezzo-soprano Christine Duncan as Flora, Violetta's friend and fellow party girl.
In Act II we got to hear baritone Robert Heepyoung-Oh as Giorgio Germont in "Pura siccome un angelo". His is a large and substantial sound and his formal demeanor was just right for the role. His duet with Ms. Malinauskaite "Dite a la giovine" was excellent.
Although the chorus sang well as a unit, some of the voices used in smaller roles did not project well.
Artistic Director of West Side Opera Society David Clenny provided the accompaniment for this semi-staged performance. We barely noticed the lack of a stage set. It's all about the voices, right?
(c) meche kroop