In Benoît Jacquot’s production, Manet’s Olympia dominates the stage of the Opéra Bastille. In 1863, the painting caused a scandal: the prostitute awaits her client, her expression proud, her demeanour assured. Is this Violetta? Like Olympia, Verdi’s most celebrated heroine surrenders to the spectator just as she surrenders to love, going so far as to die on stage, a woman’s ultimate sacrifice for her lover. Or might it be the spectator who strips her bare and intrudes upon her privacy, in the image of this milieu of social voyeurism? Whatever the case, these two women regard us with defiance and subjugate those who cannot help but look at them.
Your reading: Draw-me La Traviata