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Becoming Traviata

Traviata et nous

Philippe Béziat’s extraordinary access to Jean François Sivadier’s production of La Traviata offers an engrossing insight into the creative process.

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  • Director Philippe Béziat
  • Producer Philippe Martin
  • France 2012
  • 113 mins
  • UK distribution Axiom Films

In the summer of 2011 in Aix-en-Provence, Jean François Sivadier directed an open-air production of Verdi’s La Traviata, with Louis Langrée conducting and Natalie Dessay as Violetta. With this elegant, thoroughly engrossing documentary, Philippe Béziat has created a fascinating record of what was required prior to opening night – without showing any of the public performance. During the various planning and rehearsal stages, Sivadier and Langrée take Dessay, Charles Castronovo (Alfredo Germont), Ludovic Tézier (Giorgio Germont),the chorus and orchestra through the opera’s story, offering ideas on characterisation and performance while striving to bring them to fruition. It sometimes looks a hit-and-miss affair – Dessay appears understandably puzzled by Sivadier’s vaguer suggestions – but, for the most part, both their steady forward progress and the hard work needed to achieve it are wonderfully clear to see and hear, with the soprano in particular doing Verdi’s masterpiece glorious justice. A treat.

Geoff Andrew

Director biography

Philippe Béziat has directed numerous documentary films including, among others, Passions d’opéra – 60 ans d’art lyrique à Aix-en-Provence (2008), Rinaldo Alessandrini enregistre les Concertos Brandebourgeois (2005), De mémoire d’orchestre (2004), Les Musiciens du Louvre – paroles d’orchestre (2003) and Mozart, Ligeti et Le Banquet (2001). Béziat has also directed several fiction shorts and, during the 2007 edition of the Verbier Festival, directed the first live web broadcast of 11 of the programme’s concerts.

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