I’m ambiguous about Italian regional houses in general but what I’ve seen of the Teatro Regio Torino has impressed. They have a fine orchestra and a chorus that can sing and act and they are not afraid to take risks. All of that is very much in evidence on their recording of Gounod’s Faust made in 2015. The production is designed, directed and choreographed by Stefano Poda and, like rather a lot of his work, it’s long on big architectural statements and large scale stage pictures.
It’s a curious fact that two of the three most popular operas; Verdi’s La Traviata and Puccini’s La Bohème, are about women dying from tuberculosis. It’s also curious that they are almost always presented as frothy escapist fantasies in which Death makes his appearance only in the tear jerking finale. It’s very curious because Death stalks the libretto of both operas, albeit usually well hidden behind brocade, champagne and Christmas decorations. In 2005, at Salzburg, Willy Decker broke with convention and made Death an explicit actor in La Traviata creating the famous red dress production that has even been seen at that bastion of conservatism the Metropolitan Opera. In 2012 Stefan Herheim did something similar for La Bohème in Oslo.