A small blonde woman runs across the stage, pauses, and releases a powerful, complex song despite her stature. Natalie Dessay is the owner of that voice, managing to sustain difficult notes for such long periods of time. She continues, until a quiet yet forceful “Stop!” interjects. Director Jean François-Sivadier walks onto the rehearsal space stage and begins to give his notes. Such is the preparation for staging an entire opera
Becoming Traviata follows the preparation of the opera from the rehearsal room to the stage. François-Sivadier is constantly halting production to give the actors detailed notes about each moment within a scene; one could describe him as a meticulous director. We see Dessay perform in everything from workout clothes to elaborate costumes, and each time she delivers the same emotive vocal technique.
Dessay slowly leans her head upon fellow actor Charles Castronavo’s head, the two portraying a pair of lovers. Quickly she tears her head away and scampers across the stage while singing her thoughts. Dessay, as Nicoletta, is constantly changing her mind, unsure of whether to embrace or discard her feelings for Alberto, played by Castronavo. Throughout the opera, Nicoletta and Alberto bounce between each other as they too bounce between notes and thoughts.
OVID.tv’s BECOMING TRAVIATA Goes Behind the Scenes of an Opera
Glittering chandeliers grace the stage, lowering from the ceiling. Backstage, the crew heaves a rope, releasing the pulley and allowing the backdrops to rise into place. Suddenly, a bare stage holds a world, and we simultaneously see shots of Dessay and the rest of the cast interacting not as their characters but as themselves.
François-Sivadier is included in this, highlighting the camaraderie developed throughout the rehearsal process. They’ve begun to know each other so well that, at certain points, Dessay literally guesses what action the director will want her to take next.
This opera is arguably complex and is described as such throughout the film. Nonetheless, all parts of the production continue working on, including each individual musician and stagehand to ensure everything is perfectly timed. At one point, the pianist breaks down the significance of each instrument to the story, giving a true analysis of the show. The opera is written deliberately as François-Sivadier states and takes many to put together, as seen in the film.
Becoming Traviata is a film for all who want to see the magic behind the stage and how a show is prepared.
Directed by Phillipe Béziat
To watch this film visit OVID.tv page for Becoming Traviata
Images courtesy of OVID.tv
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About the Author: Keaton Hemminger
If you told Keaton she could live in a library she’d jump at the chance and then never be heard from for years. Keaton is an avid consumer of all media, always wanting to be invested in a story being told and guessing how it ends. One of her favorite activities is people-watching, she loves considering each person’s destination. A good book, a window above a busy street, and a mug of earl grey tea and Keaton could be occupied for a lifetime.