Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Becoming Traviata

There are some fascinating dialogues between director and star in Philippe Béziat’s opera-rehearsal documentary “Becoming Traviata.”
The director is Jean-François Sivadier, charged with reinterpreting Verdi’s masterwork for the outdoor stage of the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. The star is renowned French coloratura soprano Natalie Dessay, who must bring Violetta Valéry to life. Rarely do we proles have access to this sort of behind-the-scenes work, this mutual intellectual inquiry. It sheds real insight on what it means for a director to direct, and for an actor to engage – meaningfully and committedly – in an artistic collaboration. Still, the scenes become somewhat repetitive and, at 112 minutes, the film is significantly overlong. Opera buffs will find a broader perspective and more excitement in last year’s documentary “Wagner’s Dream,” about the Met’s staging of the Ring cycle with Deborah Voigt.

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