The experts tell us that the role of Violetta, heroine of Verdi?s truly tragic La Traviata, demands three separate voices, one for each act.
And certainly the young Ukrainian soprano Olga Mykytenko fulfils this requirement magnificently in Welsh National Opera?s intelligent and absorbing production, set in the world of media glitterati and their fickle, bitchy relationships.
Displaying a vocal resource totally unexpected after her sweetly fragile Liu in WNO?s recent Turandot, Mykytenko portrays both strength and vulnerability in the brittle bravura of her partying Act One, womanly wisdom and warmth in the angst of Act Two and transfigured spirituality on her hospitalised Act Three deathbed ? and not only here is she required to sing at full stretch whilst horizontal.
Full marks to her, and to Jonathan Summers, who makes something so desperately credible out of the paternal anguish of Giorgio Germont. Those who have questioned the idea of the cruel demands of family honour in this 21st-century production don?t know Mediterranean morality.
Peter Wedd makes a brave attempt at the wimpish Alfredo, surprising recipient of this wonderful woman?s love and immature spurner of it. Amanda Baldwin is a sexy Flora, and indeed sexiness is the keyword for the effect of the entire chorus, who in the party scenes perform with stylish abandon, with fabulous outfits and fabulous body-language.
And this is the point of directors Patrice Caurier?s and Moshe Leiser ? s achievement. Every person on this stage, whether principal, minor role or mere chorister, has an important, living part to play, and they do it so effectively.
Gareth Jones conducts with efficiency and clarity, and draws beautifully defined playing from WNO?s expert orchestra. n Repeated tonight (7.15pm). Running time: Two hours 45 minutes (0870 730 1234).