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Shakespearian clown more than a sleazy purveyor of vice, and ‘It ain’t necessarily so’ had wit and style. Nadine Benjamin was a fine Clara, nailing the tricky opening ‘Summertime’, and displaying freshness of tone throughout. As Jake, Robbins and Maria, Donovan Singletary, Chaz’men Williams-Ali and Tichina Vaughan all made vivid contributions, and Nozuko Teto as the Strawberry Woman and Ronald Samm as Peter likewise made strong impressions in their brief cameos.

The heart of Porgy and Bess is the chorus, and here ENO really scored with a specially-created ensemble who delivered the spirituals and choruses superbly. With the orchestra expertly led by John Wilson, the evening overall was a triumph for the musical and dramatic forces, who demonstrated just how much ENO can achieve when offered the right challenge. ditlev rindom

La traviata Glyndebourne Tour at Glyndebourne, October 15 The travelling companion of Massenet’s Cinderella’s on this year’s Glyndebourne Tour (the company’s 50th) has been Verdi’s Violetta, in a revival of Tom Cairns’s spare staging of La traviata from the 2014 summer festival, which was also toured that year. This year’s revival director was James Hurley, and four years on the production seemed even more bleak and shadowy, to the extent that the designer Hildegard Bechtler’s modern setting—1950s armchairs, pencil skirts and Schiaparelli-ish hats for the sober, all-black opening party—registered but did not shriek for attention, unlike the unflattering bright red peignoir the poor scarlet woman is saddled with. This was a rare miscalculation in a production that is geared towards isolating Violetta from her milieu, and, if anything, succeeds rather too well.

This is fine if you have a Violetta who manages to be in her world but not of it, something that the young Armenian soprano Mané Galoyan conveyed intensely, the progress of her terminal illness all the more realistic for being played down. Galoyan, in her Glyndebourne debut, looked convincingly frail, and even though her singing delivered impressively secure coloratura and much graceful lyricism, she still gave the illusion that the effort was killing Violetta, the effect heightened by each act opening with her lying exhausted on a couch to one side of the stage. Galoyan was at her considerable best in her Act 2 duo with Giorgio Germont, a marvellously crafted retreat into despair that showed off the unsparing perceptiveness of her singing. Similarly, there were no emotional holds barred in Violetta’s hallucinatory

■  Mané Galoyan as Violetta at Glyndebourne

Opera, December 2018

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