Opera’s original pretty woman throws a gala party at her Paris apartment and meets the young man who will forever change her destiny.
Opera’s original pretty woman throws a gala party at her Paris apartment and meets the young man who will forever change her destiny. Soar through memorable melodies, raise a glass and toast young love, devastating family obligations, and a rapturous devotion for the ages. Frequent guests Steven White and John Hoomes return to conduct and direct the southwestern premiere of this mesmerizing new production of La Traviata.
LA Opera’s production of Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata. Superstar Renée Fleming stars in a lush and lavish revival of La Traviata, conducted by Music Director James Conlon in his highly anticipated Company debut.
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An opera in three acts
by Giuseppe Verdi
Premiered at Teatro la Fenice, Venice, March 6, 1853.
Setting: Paris, 1850
Act 1: Violetta’s house, Paris, August 1850
A party is underway. A group of latecomers arrive and Violetta, a courtesan, is introduced to Alfredo Germont. Violetta, who has been ill, is told that Alfredo had worried about her during her illness. Violetta is confused by Alfredo’s concern. She barely knows him. At dinner, Alfredo gives a toast to love. Violetta counters with a toast to pleasure. Violetta is certain she will never love.
A dance has begun. The party exits into the next room but Violetta grows faint and is unable to join the others. Alfredo stays behind. He warns her that she must take care of herself. She responds that that is impossible. He tells her he loves her and will take care of her. She takes it as idle chatter and laughs it off. He proclaims his love again and she sees he is sincere. She tells him he must look elsewhere for love, that she cannot love. She gives him a flower and tells him to return when it has withered.
Dawn approaches and the party ends. Violetta thinks back on her innocence, Alfredo’s kindness, and questions her hasty repulsion of him. But her destiny is settled, she knows it’s foolish to dream.
Act 2: A country house near Paris, January 1851
Violetta has forsaken her lavish life in Paris for Alfredo’s love. They have lived a humble life together for three months.
Alfredo returns from hunting and finds Annina dressed for travel. She explains she has been to Paris to sell off Violetta’s possessions. Alfredo is ashamed to discover that Violetta has been supporting him. He leaves immediately for Paris to request money from his father.
Violetta receives an invitation to a dance at Flora’s in the evening. She is amused by the invite and has no intention of attending. A gentleman arrives to speak with Violetta. It is Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father. He explains that Violetta’s connection with the family has endangered his daughter’s hopes of marriage. He requests that she leave Alfredo for the sake of his daughter’s happiness. She sees her dreams slipping away. She agrees to sacrifice herself for the sake of Giorgio’s daughter, on the condition that Alfredo is told the truth upon her death. Violetta returns to Paris and Baron Douphol.
Alfredo is devastated by her departure. Giorgio tells him he must forget her, but he cannot. He finds Flora’s invitation and leaves for Paris.
Alfredo arrives at Flora’s and feigns indifference to Violetta. Douphol commands Violetta to ignore Alfredo. The party plays cards. Alfredo wins one round after another. The game escalates to an aggressive competition between Douphol and Alfredo before it is interrupted by dinner.
Violetta tells Alfredo they need to talk. She pleads for him to leave. She fears an impending duel between Douphol and Alfredo. Alfredo says he’ll leave if she follows. She tells him a sacred oath demands that she stay. She says the oath was spoken to Douphol and that she loves him. Alfredo calls the party over to witness his settlement of debt. He throws money at her feet with contempt. She faints. The party is disgraced by his behaviour. Alfredo, too, is horrified by what he has done.
Act 3: Violetta’s bedroom, Paris, February 1850
Violetta is dying. The doctor tells Annina that she only has a few hours left. Violetta sends Annina on an errand and begins to read a letter from Giorgio. A duel has taken place between Alfredo and Douphol. Douphol has been wounded and Alfredo has gone abroad. But Giorgio has revealed Violetta’s sacrifice and he and his son will soon be by her side.
Annina returns and announces she has visitors. It is Alfredo and his father. Alfredo and Violetta embrace and dream of a new life together. There is a moment of hope, but it soon vanishes. Violetta collapses and the doctor proclaims her dead.
|Stage Director||John Hoomes||n/a|
|Violetta||Caitlin Lynch||2/28, 3/2(mat), 3/9(mat)|
|Violetta||Ambur Braid||3/1 & 3/8|
|Alfredo||Adriano Graziani||2/28, 3/2(mat), 3/9(mat)|
|Alfredo||Patrick O'Halloran||3/1 & 3/8|
|Baron Douphol||Chris Carr||ALL|
|Marquis D'Obigny||Stefan Gordon||ALL|
|Doctor Grenville||Calvin Griffin||ALL|
|Flora Bervoix||Beth Lytwynec||ALL|
Born in 1813 in the Italian village of Le Roncole near Busseto, Giuseppe Verdi spent his early years studying the organ. By the age of seven, he had become an organist at San Michele Arcangelo. It was there that the young Verdi was an altar boy and, according to myth, his mother saved him from the French in 1814. In 1823, Verdi moved to Busseto and attended the music school run by Antonio Provesi. By the age of 13, he was an assistant conductor of the Busseto orchestra. After finishing the school, Verdi applied for admission to the Milan Conservatory. He was rejected for admission, although one of the examiners suggested that he “forget about the Conservatory and choose a maestro in the city.” Verdi studied composition in Milan with Vincenzo Lavigna, a composer and the maestro at La Scala. Verdi bounced back and forth between Milan and Busseto until he was named maestro of the Busseto Philharmonic in March 1836.
By May 1836, he had married childhood sweetheart, Margherita Barezzi, his greatest benefactor’s daughter. He returned to Milan several years later, this time with a young family.
Verdi’s first opera, Oberto, was brought to the stage at La Scala in November 1839 and ran for multiple performances. The noted Ricordi firm published Oberto and, based upon his initial operatic effort, Verdi won a contract for three additional operas. He began work on his next opera, Un Giorno di Regno, but was interrupted when, one by one, the Verdis fell ill. A little over the course of a year, Verdi lost his son, his daughter, and his beloved wife to illness. Unfortunately, Un Giorno was a complete failure.
Verdi vowed never to compose another comedy and developed a fatalistic belief in inescapable destiny. Even so, the director at La Scala kept faith with Verdi, who later declared that with his next work, Nabucco, “my musical career really began.” At dress rehearsals for Nabucco in the La Scala theater, carpenters making repairs to the house gradually stopped hammering and, seating themselves on scaffolding and ladders, listened with rapt attention to what the composer considered a lackluster chorus rendering of “Va, pensiero.” At the close of the number, the workers pounded the woodwork with cries of “Bravo, bravo, viva il maestro!” The opening of Nabucco was a triumph. Verdi was famous, commanding a higher fee than any other composer of his time.
I Lombardi followed Nabucco and won an unprecedented victory over Austrian censors. Verdi’s triumph in retaining the libretto and melodic themes the censors had hoped to ban as “religious” in nature forged the composer’s lifelong reputation as an ideological hero of the Italian people. This would be the first of his many battles with censors for artistic freedom.
Over the next seven years, the composer penned ten additional operas of varied success, gradually making the transition between two distinct eras of Verdi composition. Initially captive of the “bel canto” style and heir to Donizetti’s artistic throne, Verdi continually experimented to produce his own operatic genre in which melodic drama and identifiable musical essence of character took center stage as an equal to vocal purity and elegance.
It was an inspired stroke of boldness about which Verdi commented in explaining the innovative core of his work, Il Trovatore, “I think (if I’m not mistaken) that I have done well; but at any rate I have done it in the way that I felt it.” In saying so, he defined his own creative hallmark. Although a musical genius, Verdi composed spontaneously from the heart. A brilliantly schooled musician, he placed emotional sensibility above intellect in all that he wrote. In the process, he created the remarkable marriage of dramatic characterization and vocal power, an indelible artistic signature.
The creation of an operatic tour de force based upon his ingenious artistic formulation assured Verdi’s immortality, beginning in 1851 with Rigoletto, followed soon after by Il Trovatore, La Traviata, and ultimately in 1871, by Aida. Even without the masterpieces that followed – Simon Boccanegra, Un Ballo in Maschera, La Forza del Destino, and Don Carlos or his great Requiem Mass – the Maestro could have afforded to rest on his musical achievements and stand unchallenged as the premier operatic composer of any age. In fact, with the success of Aida, Verdi seemed to have abandoned composing altogether, producing no new works for fifteen years.
Fortunately for posterity, an electrifying libretto, Otello, created by poet Arrigo Boito, brought the composer out of his self-imposed retirement. The opening of Otello in February of 1887 attracted an international audience to Milan for a dramatic event which ended only after the citizenry had showered Verdi with gifts and applause throughout twenty curtain calls and towed his carriage to the hotel. Public festivities continued until dawn.
In 1893, with the premiere of Falstaff, Verdi and his adoring audience repeated the entire sequence of events at La Scala – all in honor of a comedy he had vowed as a young man never to write. The maestro finally retreated to his country home in Sant’ Agata with his second wife, singer Giuseppina Strepponi. They spent several peaceful years in retirement until her death in 1897. His wife’s death left Verdi in a state of unbearable grief. He immediately fled Sant’ Agata for the Grand Hotel in Milan and, after four unhappy years, Verdi died in 1901, the victim of a massive stroke. Verdi’s death left all Italy in mourning. He still is revered throughout the music world as the greatest of operatic composers and, more particularly, in Italy as a patriotic hero and champion of human rights.