traviata et nous is a documentary by Philippe Béziat about the creation of the 2011 Aix Festival production of Verdi’s La Traviata. The stars are stage director Jean-François Sivadier and his leading lady, Natalie Dessay. It’s two hours long and is much more insightful than the average “making of” bonus feature. This really gets inside the heads of the director and the performers (we see a fair bit of Charles Castronovo and Ludovic Tézier as well as Dessay) as they begin to understand and then elaborate on the director’s ideas. Dessay comes across, as one would expect from her performances, as an exceptionally intelligent, thoughtful and hard working person. Sivadier too is très sympa; worlds removed from the caricature of a German Regie director ruthlessly imposing his ideas on libretto and performers alike. I found it interesting that when Sivadier is working with Dessay or Tézier French is spoken but at pretty much all other times the working language, even in a French house like Aix, is English.
The film making is quite interesting. Sometimes we see and hear the rehearsal; singers marking, interpolations from the director etc. Sometimes we see the rehearsal but it appears to be overdubbed with sound recorded at a performance. It sometimes seems a bit odd but it works. The technical quality of the disk is average DVD with a Dolby stereo soundtrack and optional English subtitles.
I enjoyed this disk enough to order the DVD of the production (currently on special for $14 at Presto!).
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Thanks for the heads up. Though you would probably classify me as a traditionalist and I would classify myself that way, the Decker production is my favourite Traviata and there are other modernist productions among my favourites such as the wonderful Glyndebourne Giulio Cesare by McVicar. Great imagination and performance always win out. But modernist productions just for the sake of being modernist leave me as cold as poorly done traditional performances. I’ll have a look at this one.
What got me about this one is it really moved me, even on DVD. I too love the McVicar GC but find it a bit hard to imagine without Danni. It seems so perfectly designed for her.