Opera overcomes peril of Ukranian conflict

La Traviata is an opera written by Verdi and based on the novel La Dame aux Camelias by Alexander Dumas.
La Traviata is an opera written by Verdi and based on the novel La Dame aux Camelias by Alexander Dumas.
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When La Traviata comes to The Kings Theatre on Saturday, February 7, audiences will be transported into the world of courtesan Violetta and her doomed love for aristocrat Alfredo.

But offstage, another interesting story took place to producer Ellen Kent during the production stage of the opera’s European tour.

Last year, Ellen was caught up in the crisis in Ukraine when she went to The Ukraine National Opera in Kharkiv to oversee production. She says: ‘We went out there in April last year to see how the sets and costumes had been done and to supervise, and whilst there it all blew up in our faces – it happened so fast. I was also out there in 2005 [during the Orange Revolution] but that was a piece of cake in comparison.

‘I got a phone call from the British Embassy who said that within 48 hours the Ukranian Army were sending the airforce and were going to blitz where we are, and to get out. So we did.

‘Fortunately I have been working in Eastern Europe since 1992 so I have a vast network of opera houses to fall on if there is a problem.’

Ellen moved the entire operation to the National Opera of Moldova where the production was completed.

On the journey, Ellen’s drivers faced peril transporting the sets.

‘At that time the bombings had started and there was street fighting and no law, banditos pretending to be militants robbing all the cargo on the roads.

‘Fortunately my drivers went in their articulated lorries and got to Moldova. I have known them for 19 years – in fact, Misha Glutnik is my driver over here as well, and is coming to Portsmouth.’

Ellen prides herself on being faithful to the original text, and this is what audinces can expect when they watch La Traviata.

‘If the composer has done a production which is set in the 1800s where you have those fabulous ballgowns and romantic settings, that is what I use. This is a sexy production with stars I have hand-picked from across Europe and costumes of a film standard,’ says Ellen.

La Traviata comes to the Kings Theatre on Albert Road on Saturday, February 7 at 7.30pm.

This production will be sung in Italian with English surtitles. Tickets: £19.50-27, concessions available. Call (023) 9282 8282 or visit kingsportsmouth.co.uk