Jean-François Sivadier

Becoming Traviata

Becoming Traviata is not La Traviata, nor should it be. It isn’t a concert documentary. It is about the creation of a single instance of the opera, specifically the 2011 production at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, directed by Jean-François Sivadier and starring Natalie Dessay. A documentary about the creation of a work of art can capture a handful of its greatest moments, but cannot replicate the impact of experiencing the work itself. The film’s director, Philippe Béziat, understands this. Rather than try to capture every facet of this production from start to finish Becoming Traviata focuses on Dessay’s transformation into the protagonist, the courtesan Violetta Valéry. All of this might seem a little much for someone who isn’t entirely familiar with opera in general, or La Traviata in particular. That’s fair, and this film will certainly be more immediately appealing to cognoscenti. Yet Béziat has not made a film solely for its built-in audience. Becoming Traviata is more interested in the arc of theatrical production and the way that Sivadier and Dessay build a character than it is in the musical minutia of Verdi’s work.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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