La Traviata. Aix-en-Provence 2003. Director: Peter Mussbach. Cast: Mireille Delunsch (Violetta), Matthew Polenzani (Alfredo), Zeljko Lucic (Germont pére). Conductor: Yutaka Sado. Further details here.
This is without doubt Peter Mussbach´s finest staging presenting La Traviata as Violetta´s road to death. Or perhaps as Violetta´s recollection of her past life as she fades away.
The stage is almost bare - we see the neon-stripes of a highway with a superimposed tunnel glowing unnaturally in the dark. The road to death, apparently. The fluorescent lights make the white dress of Mireille Delunsch glow unnaturally, mimicking a corpse or a drug addict, indeed looking truly sickening. At several points the eerie fluorescent dress appears suspended in the air. Violetta is on stage during the entire opera, fading in and out among the other characters. The contrast between Verdi´s music and this the sickly atmosphere is astonishing.
Mireille Delunsch is utterly convincing as the fragile, transparent and fading Violetta. Vocally she may be rather dry, but she compensates with her superb acting. Matthew Polenzani and Zeljko Lucic are rather traditional as Alfredo and Germont pére, respectively and Sado conducts an efficient, though not memorable performance.
What makes this production (which may also be seen at the Berlin State Opera, where Christine Schäfer was a superb Violetta a couple of seasons ago) superb is Peter Mussbach´s brilliant concept. While Peter Mussbach´s productions are always aesthetic, they more than occasionally lack dynamic drive, however this is not the case here.
This will not be a Traviata for everyone. For a traditional La Traviata I´d strongly advice to look elsewhere. Such as here.
Mireille Delunsch with Sempre libera:
The bottom line (scale of 1-5, 3=average):
Mireille Delunsch: 4
Matthew Polenzani: 3
Zeljko Lucic: 3
Yutaka Sado: 3
Peter Mussbach: 5
Overall impression: 5