Becoming Traviata Reviews

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December 13, 2013
Becoming Traviata is certainly one of the most riveting and imaginative ways in which documentary has ever presented the creative process of opera productions and the passion and talent of each individual involved in it. Filmmaker Béziat employs a fly-on-the-wall approach in following the preparations of a staging of Giuseppe Verdi's masterwork La Traviata at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in France. He particularly focuses on celebrated opera singer Natalie Dessay as she prepares to take on the leading role of Violetta. Her presence is powerful and magnetic, yet it is far from being the conventional representation of the 'diva' opera singer. In fact, Becoming Traviata offers a revelation of the world of opera that is far from the snobbery and pretentiousness that it is sometimes identified with. It is rather presented as a disciplined and sometimes demanding yet joyful and exciting expression of artistic freedom and, in this case, the re-interpretation and modernisation of the mise-en-scene of one of the most recognised and praised works in the history of classical music. Admittedly, the film opens to a riveting crescendo and reaches an enthusiastic height in its beginning that it sometimes struggles to match as it progresses. Nevertheless, the structure of the film that unfolds with and remains faithful to the emotional charge and intensity of the opera work makes it entertaining throughout as we get to follow the parallel physical and emotional developments of both the behind the scene machinations and the Italian composer's original vision. And (is there any need to say it) the music itself is sublime!
December 6, 2013
This attempt to give an "insider's" view of a French production of "La Traviata" does not succeed. We see bits and pieces and listen to a lot of conversation about a pecurliarly conceived version of the Verdi classic starring Natalie Dessay, who we were lucky to see perform the role in Santa Fe. No actual footage of a performance is included in this mish mash of a documentary. When placed alongside the far superior "Wagner and Me" conceived by Stephen Fry, this film pales dreadfully!
½ May 10, 2013
Went to an advanced screening. was terrific.
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