Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Musings on Traviata - with sound

My (english) friend Attila spent a few days in Athens and has kindly agreed to write a brief review of the Traviata he watched at the Greek National Opera on March the 14th.

Four years ago - at the time of the last football world cup - I saw Elena Kelessidi as Liú in Turandot at Covent Garden; if she didn't quite steal the show from Ben Heppner and Georgina Lukács, she certainly dominated that evening with radiant sublime singing that seemed to make time stand still and which drew the loudest applause of the evening.

Seeing her on Sunday in the current revival of La Traviata at the Greek National Opera in Athens, it's clear that time has diminished Kelessidi's voice. The glorious tone now eludes her and everything seems more of an effort. But her sheer artistry really shone as she worked that stage almost single-handedly amidst colleagues who at times looked like they were performing in an unrehearsed scratch performance. The mediocre static chorus seemed totally uninvolved in either the party or in the drama taking place in front of them, and the orchestra played with the refinement of a big band.

Fortunately, Kelessidi seemed to exist in a different dimension - every move had meaning, every note for all it's effort expressed her character's experience and suffering. For me, a master stroke of this production is that the last act doesn't take place in the usual spartan unfurnished garret but in the same splendid French empire setting of the Act 1 party. Kelessidi totally caught me by surprise as I found myself haunted by the eerie feeling that I was in present in the sumptuous Paris apartment of the dying Maria Callas at 36 Avenue Georges Mandel. I was witnessing the last days of a once great singer as she now slowly surrendered to disillusionment and mortality.

As one star fades another takes to the firmament. Dimitri Platanias shows a rich talent from the first moment he walks onto the stage as Giorgio Germont, handing his hat and coat to the waiting servant with a gravitas that sets the scene for his confrontation with Violetta. His solid frame brings a monumental quality to his scenes, and the voice purrs effortlessly like a Bentley V8 engine; so much so that at times I found myself revelling in the beauty of the tone without worrying what he was singing about. I sense there is plenty more to come from Mr Platanias.

Listen to Dimitri Platanias singing Di Provenza on

January the 22nd 2010

January the 23rd 2010

All photos (C) Akriviadis from the premiere of January the 22nd with Elena Kelessidi, Stefan Pop (a real find!) and Dimitris Platanias.


Anonymous said...

So, it was just a soprano and a baritone? No other roles?

Parsifal said...

But her sheer artistry really shone as she worked that stage almost single-handedly amidst colleagues who at times looked like they were performing in an unrehearsed scratch performance.

Not my words, but give u the answer.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to hear samples from that Turandot because when I heard her as Euridice in 2008 (?), so two years ago, she was already dissapointing. Did her voice deteriorate so fast? Mind you, she's been doing all kind of roles in Greece so it shouldn't surprise us the voice can't keep up. Platanias is a world class baritone on the other hand. He should be singing at La Scala.

Parsifal said...

I think the Turandot was in 2006. Attila can help us with the date. As a matter of fact I have a recording with the cast mentioned (Heppner, Lukacs, Kelessidi) from July the 11th 2006. Will try to locate it and upload a couple of chunks.

Platanias at La Scala? Naaah...they have Schrott over there. The Looks win the voice.
Platanias will be singing Amonasro in Bregenz though, this very summer, in the Graham Vick production (yes, the one with the statue of Liberty and the flooded stage).

Anonymous said...

I'd love to hear (?) Schrott sing Amonasro...