Violetta, La traviata

by Beth Stewart

Opera Australia, 2018

"As a season opener, it would be hard to beat La Traviata – guaranteed full houses, lots of media coverage, sparkling score and the ideal vehicle for introducing a star soprano. This production, first aired by Opera Australia in 1994, continues to deliver “in spades”. The enormous opening night crowd were vocally enthusiastic. The glitz and glamour of the production captivates even after this extended run and the Opera Australia debut of American Corinne Winters was rapturously received.

Making her Opera Australia debut for this Melbourne audience, American Corinne Winters brings an abundance of knowledge to her signature role. She is as much an actor who sings as an operatic star. Her ease and fluidity on the stage allow her to relax into the character and focus on many elements which breathe life into a character. Her addition of tiny details – a hurried swig from a bottle to choke a threatening coughing fit; the donning of an implied mask during the “Sempre libera” to disguise her emotions; a cringe when the Baron dismisses her with the flick of a gambling chip in her direction. All these myriad components brought Violetta to life. Ms Winters’ dark and rich vocal tone handled with ease the many vigorous demands Verdi makes of his protagonist. This was a captivating portrait which drew well-deserved applause.

In many ways, the conductor’s rendition was as dramatic and varied as the masterful acting of Ms Winters’ Violetta…"
Gregory Pritchard, ConcertoNet

"Warm and expressive, ultimately catching fire during Violetta’s demise in the final act..."
Patricia Maunder, Bachtrack

"La Traviata marks the Australian debut of rising American soprano Corinne Winters. The role of Violetta famously makes myriad requirements on the lead soprano. As the evening progresses, individual performances take flight. Winters warmed in to the role beautifully as the evening progressed. Winters’ coloratura work is pleasingly accurate, and while she is able to handle the pace put forth by Montanaro with relative ease, a decrease of some tempi would likely have given her more scope to really shine. Winters’ strength as an actress comes through in act two and continues into the final act.  As Violetta and Alfredo feud bitterly and publicly, the full company climax to act two sees Winters and Kang giving riveting performances. As Violetta lies distraught and dying, Winters comes into her full strength, giving a genuinely moving performance. Singing Violetta’s lament, “Addio, del passato,” Winters in full control and is seen and heard at her best."
Simon Parris, Man in Chair

"Winters was at her best as the ailing Violetta of Act III, capturing the despair and desperation of a dying woman with affecting authenticity, her voice pale and pianissimo."
Bridget Davies, Canberra Times

"The arias and duets are sublime, with the audience providing a warm welcome to Corinne Winters during her Australian debut as Violetta. Winters’s vocal range and emotive portrayal of Violetta were on display and it was impossible not to be entranced."
The Plus Ones

"Struck by love in partying pleasure and swilling champagne from the bottle like there’s no tomorrow as she defies the tuberculosis that weakens her, US soprano Corinne Winters worked the festivities vivaciously in creamy-rich voice as Violetta... Stirred by emotion and pondering if Alfredo could be the one when left alone singing “È strano! ... Ah, fors’è lui,” Winters bloomed marvellously. It was the emotional emphatic bursts on single phrases that genuinely crowned her performance.

Together with Winters, the vocal blend [with Kang's Alfredo] entwined affectingly, most poignantly in Act 3’s duet of hopeless optimism. But the central conflict that upheaves momentary tranquillity in Act 2 with the arrival of Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germont, came with sublime dramatic interplay between Winters, Kang and baritone José Carbó."
Paul Selar, Herald Sun

The rich sound and particular texture of Winters' voice is unique. A powerful actor, her final act was especially potent with her voice often floating with sustained fragility.”
David Barmby, ArtsHub

The latest iteration – both visually rich and lovingly handled by its stars – doesn’t let down the canon. Opera Australia’s current revival is a reanimation of the vintage production by Elijah Moshinsky and it does the work proud with a commanding, sometimes cool, sometimes rent Violetta from the American soprano Corinne Winters…

Moshinsky, with his instinctive refinement and restraint, is an ideal mirror and medium for Verdi because he has no desire to subdue him to a modish derangement of his own conception. Corinne Winters cut her teeth as Violetta in Peter Konwitschny’s production of La Traviata at the English National Opera in 2013. This deconstruction of Verdi’s Italianate Victorianism cut the score to an interval-free hour and 50 minutes and chucked a few chairs into empty spaces and presented frames behind which there were frames. This may – paradoxically – have concentrated Winters’ sense of the latent power of the character but it’s good to see this performance in the very traditional, but never cheesy, setting of Moshinsky’s production.

Winters has spoken of Maria Callas as “ma maîtresse” because “she is strength, vulnerability, beauty and rawness wrapped into one”, and it’s interesting to see her performance in a production that is clearly designed to show what Verdi can do rather than what can be done with Verdi.

It is a restrained and necessary frame for the drama and the music that is its idiom and realisation… It is hard to fault Winters. She glides, she soars with a magnificence of coloratura that is merely the theatrical expression of a wholly consistent characterisation, sometimes coolly self-possessed in the face of tightly controlled desire, sometimes enraptured, sometimes very convincingly at the edge of despair. This is a very contemporary Violetta – musically flawless but with a convincing and enshrouding self-possession that rises to meet the implicit tragedy with which Verdi, almost against the odds, transfigures melodrama into tragedy.”
Peter Craven, The Saturday Paper