Guest Review: La Traviata, ENO

Verdi’s La Traviata is a firm favourite of many opera lovers: rich, languid music narrating a tragic love story of sacrifice, separation and sickness.

These themes are perfectly encapsulated within the painfully beautiful overture, and in this production the curtain remained down throughout, allowing the audience to enjoy the shimmering clarity of the orchestra undistracted. From the start these musicians brought subtle flair and diversity of colour to their rendition of the score, following the singers with sensitivity and assurance.

La Traviata

Making his debut as Artistic Director of the ENO, Daniel Kramer has attempted to update La Traviata, bringing the setting forward 100 years to the early 20th century – but when specifically is unclear. Loose, visual references to the last century obscure the plot, which relies on a specific cultural context for coherence. Modernisation of the narrative backdrop lacks nuance, and supposed signifiers for the 20th century are muddled, over-sexualised and jarring with the story of a love forbidden by 19th century social convention. A successful updating of La Traviata requires a careful socio-historical understanding of this 19th century setting and how it can be coherently converted into a specific modernised equivalent. There doesn’t appear to be any artistic or intellectual reason for Kramer’s recontextualisation, and the darker themes of vulnerability and isolation present in the opera are overlooked in favour of lavishness and vulgarity, which alienate the audience, preventing full emotional sympathy with the protagonists.

La Traviata

Irish Soprano Claudia Boyle gives a controlled, virtuosic performance as Violetta, manoeuvring the score with dexterity, and her voice possesses a soft youthfulness, at times perhaps too muted, but at others appropriately sweet and gentle. Her onstage counterpart, Lukhanyo Moyake is vocally powerful as Alfredo, but had moments of technical instability, and together they lack chemistry. There was a sense that the three-dimensionality of their characters had not been fully explored, and therefore their love story was deficient of profundity and poignancy. Despite this, there were instances of great atmospheric impact, such as in the third act, where a dimly lit, mostly empty stage is filled momentarily with carnival goers. Darkly clothed figures emerge and surround the dying heroine before disappearing again into the shadows. It is a conceptually strong and visually beautiful innovation from Kramer, showing what can be achieved when the material is well handled.

This production of La Traviata was at times moving and rousing, but it is unfortunate that the emotional impact was dampened by some clumsy aesthetic and directoral decisions.

La Traviata continues at the ENO until 13 April, book tickets here.

Written by Eloise Kenny-Ryder.

Meraki, Fitzrovia

Greek food is a cuisine I rarely crave… but feasting at Meraki made me wonder why. I came to the conclusion that good Greek food is hard to find in London, which is why this new Fitzrovia eatery should be on your radar.


Meraki was opened in summer 2017 by Peter Waney, a restauranteur who started managing restaurants 15 years ago with his brother Arjun. Their foodie journey began with Zuma in Knightsbridge, followed by Roka and La Petite Maison. More recently, the Waney family acquired and revamped award-winning, internationally-recognised The Arts Club on Dover Street. They have also opened Oblix at The Shard, Coya on Piccadilly and Coya Angel Court in The City. So I think it’s safe to say Peter and Arjun know how to create and run a successful eatery in London.


Upmarket and stylish Meraki is found on Great Titchfield Street amongst many other great foodie spots. The staff are instantly welcoming and the restaurant has a smart professional look, decorated in shades of gold and cream.

The menu is split between cold and hot mezze, fresh and raw fish dishes, salads and sharing dishes. We decided to share a selection of the mezze, which all sounded very appetising. First up, a wooden platter of Greek dips, authentic taramasalata (white in colour, not fake pink!), smoky aubergine, and a richly flavoured and coloured spinach and feta dip.


Our waitress offered tips on what specialities not to miss. Delicate and vibrant Octopus Carpaccio, devilishly indulgent Mastelo cheese with a tangy tomato & chilli chutney, wonderfully light Courgette and Aubergine Tempura with a touch of spice and paired with a contrasting tzatziki. I also loved the meat dishes, particularly the Lamb kebab spiced with Meraki’s secret spice mix, they were soft with a crispy exterior and perfectly seasoned.


Head chef Athinagoras Kostakos kindly made a selection of mini desserts for us to sample. The stand out was the Orange-Agave syrup cake with white chocolate namelaka, crispy filo pastry and clementine sorbet. It was moist and satisfying, sweet but light… my guest and I both agreed it was one of the best cakes we had every eaten! The Lacta Chocolate fondant with olive oil ice-cream was also tasty, a more dense and rich pudding for those that can still fit it in.

For stand-out Greek food in London I cannot think of a better restaurant than Meraki. Delicious dishes, an atmospheric dining room and welcoming service. Tick tick tick.

More information and book a table at Meraki here.

Air France x Good France: Parlez Vous French Food

A few days ago I joined Air France and a group of gastronomes at the French Institute in South Kensington for a night to celebrate French food and to launch the ‘Do you speak French Food?” campaign.

This is the fourth year that AirFrance has partnered with Good France to celebrate this special annual culinary event. Each year, on 21st March, the first day of Spring, an amazing dinner is arranged to promote French fine dining.

Air France

This year the theme is Wines & Spirits and international gourmet cuisine. Over 3,000 restaurants around the world will be taking part in this amazing culinary initiative, offering “à la Française” menus to guests, a lovely opportunity for diners to experience French food without having to travel to the country. Some of my favourite French restaurants in London are taking part, including Frenchie, The Greenhouse, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, and Club Gascon.

Air FranceAir France

At last week’s press conference we listened to inspirational talks by Raymond Blanc and Michel Roth who spoke of their fondest foodie memories and the importance of food education. Then it was over to Air France to give us an insight into the “Do you speak French food?” campaign. We watched the short, original and quirky video clips which represent a mini gastronomic dictionary, hoping to help customers around the world to grasp a better understanding of some French gourmet culinary terms in an amusing and informative way.

Air France

Followers are invited to add their own culinary terms to this gastronomic dictionary and post a related pic on Instagram. The competition takes place from 16 to 21 March and the winner of the best combination will win two long-haul tickets to the destination of their choice.

Air FranceAir France

On 21 March 2018, to mark the start of the “Gôut de /Good France” event, Air France will also organise the first ever wine and Champagne tasting event in the sky with Paolo Basso, voted the world’s best sommelier in 2013. On flight AF072 connecting Paris to Los Angeles, the expert wine consultant will present the wine and Champagnes list that he has signed for the company to the flight’s Business customers. Premium Economy and Economy customers will also be able to discover the medium-haul Business class wines.

While the flight is taking place, the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs will kick off the world’s largest dinner reception – bringing together over 3,000 restaurants and 150 embassies across five continents to celebrate and promote fine French cuisine.

Air France

Needless to say we were all starving after hearing about all the amazing culinary events, and so we headed downstairs to try dishes created specially for the occasion by Chef Michel Roth, taste premium French wines, and marvel at the prettiest miniature patisserie! Such a delicious and fabulously French way to spend an evening!

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Air France.