It is a "Traviata" all emotions and emojis: in Paris, the mythical opera is revisited in the sauce of social networks and the famous heroine of Verdi transformed into an influencer, or even "Insta-girl".
Australian director Simon Stone was applauded at the end of the premiere at Palais Garnier on Thursday, but the longest ovations were reserved for South African soprano Pretty Yende, who was making her debut in this role and who appeared moved to tears - a very enthusiastic compatriot even waved the flag of his country during the standing ovation.
In place of the traditional image of Violetta Valéry, the 19th century courtesan inspired by Alexandre Dumas Jr.'s "The Lady with Camellias", Stone imagined a 21st century "it-girl" in the image of a Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian.
On stage, two giant walls placed on a spinette (privileged process at Simon Stone) show the Instagram page of Violetta with its 147 million subscribers, its thousands of "likes", its website of products "Beauty.com", photos and selfies of her partying. She is even the poster of a fictional perfume, "Villain".
- "Uberbisou" -
"Violetta is a" socialite "(socialite)", but, like the original heroine, "she is an independent woman who is very aware of her charm and wants to live free", explained to AFP Pretty Yende, a regular at the Paris Opera.
Emojis and emoticons parade in wide shots alongside "posts" of Violetta. "I feel so tired !!!", she writes. Then a mail is displayed that she receives from a mutual health that informs her that her "cancer has recurred". The original Violetta, she is infected with tuberculosis when she meets the young Alfredo Germont.
The traditional salon where Violetta celebrates in Act 1 is replaced by a nightclub in which, dressed in a golden dress (with sequins and plunging neckline), Pretty Yende smokes, constantly looking at her phone.
During Violetta's famous "Semper libera" (always free) air, she exchanges contemporary WhatsApp messages with Alfredo (the French tenor Benjamin Bernheim) where it is about "uberbisou".
When Alfredo's father, masterfully incarnated by the greatest French baritone, Ludovic Tézier, asks him to break with his son, she sends him the letter of rupture by DHL. To evoke the debts of Violetta, it is notified by his bank that his ceiling was exceeded and, during the scene of the confrontation between lovers, a drunk Alfredo plays on a tablet in blackjack online.
- "On like!"
Simon Stone locates the action, as in the libretto, in Paris (we even see a copy of the equestrian statue of Joan of Arc in the 1st arrondissement), with some contemporary touches: a kebab seller "Paristanbul", a coffee "coworking".
Instead of the villa near Paris where the lovers take refuge, they are in the countryside, with the appearance of a real cow on stage that is reminiscent of the bull living in "Moses and Aaron" in 2015.
The 35-year-old director, one of the most sought-after in Europe, is known for his very contemporary adaptations of classics - not always to everyone's taste - such as his rewriting in 2017 of "Three Sisters" from Chekhov where heroines also live in an ultra-connected world.
Since the beginning of his mandate in 2014, the Director General of the Opera Stéphane Lissner has often summoned radical directors such as Romeo Castellucci, Calixto Bieito or Dmitri Tcherniakov who have rushed, sometimes drastically, the repertoire.
The opera sites have welcomed this new production 2.0, "Revopera" saying that "we like!" and qualifying Simon Stone's bet despite a "glut of details".
© 2019 AFP