Sunday, 8 January 2012

La Traviata

In December I had the pleasure of burlesquing one of the greatest tragedies of all time, La Traviata. Verdi's great opera was first performed in Venice in 1853, it had a rocky start with the leading lady howled at by the audience who considered her too old and overweight to play the delicate young waif dying of consumption.

The opera was based on a play which was adapted from a book which was in turn loosely based on the true story of the much loved courtesan Marie Duplessis. She died at the tender age of 23 in 1847, she suffered that most romantic of diseases, tuberculosis. Her death was sad but considered beautiful and heroic by those who mourned her and those who galvanised her in words and music. If she had grown old and died an unattractive old woman sent mad with syphilis she would hardly have been celebrated in such a way.

My interpretation plays with the Victorian preoccupation with the disease known as "the white death" and the obsession with youthful mortality. It's not easy to see but I am constantly coughing up blood during the performance decorating my partner's face (John Meyer) with the contents of my ailing lungs. We've come along way since 1847, you can see the performance through the magic of youtube.

This performance took place in Lismore with the accompaniment of the spectacular RagTag band, filmed by the talented and always amusing Tyrone Blackman. My exquisite corset and chemise are by Gallery Serpentine of Sydney, John's blood red shirt is also by this incomparable fashion house.