Belgrade hosts sumptuous operatic double-bill
Carmen / La Traviata, Belgrade Theatre, Aug 30 / 31
Passion and heartbreak resonate in two lavish new productions from the Russian State Opera touring company, on the way to Coventry complete with a 30-piece orchestra.
At the Belgrade Theatre on August 30 you can see Bizet's fiery Carmen, followed on August 31 by Verdi's La Traviata.
And if you've never seen a classical opera before these are certainly two worth trying.
Russian State Opera producer Alexej Ignatow says: "No experience of opera is needed to enjoy these classics. Our sets and costume designs, as well as the informative programmes, make the productions very accessible and, most of all, enjoyable."
For Carmen (pictured above), which is set in Seville but sung in French, subtitles make it easy to follow the action, although most people already know the story of the temptress who lures humble Spanish soldier Don Jose away from his childhood sweetheart, but then faces the terrible consequences of cruelly replacing him in her fleeting affections with the glamorous bullfighter Escamillo.
The following day comes La Traviata, set in 19th century Paris - although this one is sung in Italian.
Again the subtitles help audiences follow the plot as heroine Violetta lives a whirlwind life of endless parties before falling helplessly in love with a young nobleman, Alfredo.
The couple run away to an idyll in the countryside which is disrupted by the arrival of Alfredo's father, who leaves Violetta in no doubt that her relationship with his son is destroying the family's fine reputation.
Verdi based the story on the Alexandre Dumas novel, La Dame aux Camelias, published in 1848.
But its the beauty of the arias that have kept La Traviata in almost continual production ever since.
For tickets visit www.belgrade.co.uk