Ok, I’ll just blurt it out:LA TRAVIATAis one of my favorite operas and I have seen several performances of it but NEVER like this. LA TRAVIATA is a love story of such beauty, only a LIVE performance can capture it. Never until now was I able to get my arms around Violetta’s rich, complex, poignant, romantic, and tragic story. Lyric's Live presentation and pre-opera resources made all the difference.
Two terrific resources I highly recommend:
Before, visit Lyric’s website and listen to the commentary. In the case of LA TRAVIATA, we had the pleasure of hearing Anthony Freud, General Director, share his reasons for loving the opera. Clarification of biographical and literary origins enriched our understanding of the actions of the characters and, importantly, Violetta’s problematic “occupation.” Here’s the link Mr. Freud’s fascinating insights: Lyric’s website -Mr. Freud
On the day of the performance at Lyric, I attended the pre-opera lecture presented by Jesse Gram of Lyric's Education Dept. whose “insider information” alerted the audience to important details that greatly enhanced our understanding and enjoyment of LA TRAVIATA. The lecture is FREE and one hour before the performance. Here’s the link to the schedule for all the lectures: Lyric's preopera schedule
The couple seated in front of us, John and Lori Iaconi, was so excited about their experience of LA TRAVIATA, we did an “intermission interview.” Lori and John loved the costumes and were both impressed with Marina Rebeka’s (Violetta’s) voice. Even though this is only their second opera, Lori felt that the music so eloquently expressed the feelings of all the characters, she didn’t even need to read the super titles. John felt the same way, adding that the dances completed the picture for them.
John was disappointed with the countryside scenery in Act Two. Thanks to Jesse Gram, I and my husband knew the reason the backdrop looked so flat: it was flat. It was just a painting of the countryside—there was even a very visible frame and, just behind the picture was Violetta’s life in Paris. What a powerful way of expressing the fragile nature of their love!
Both Jesse Gram and Anthony Freud pointed out the fact that LA TRAVIATA is more than a little autobiographical: Verdi was living with a woman and, like Alfredo, was criticized and considered immoral. Verdi understood their pain.
Everything about this production was so perfect, it was magical! I have been attending operas at Lyric for about five years now and I have to say this was the most moving, most perfect in every way. Dramatically and musically it was stunning—the beautiful cast looked and sounded their parts. The orchestra seamlessly provided indispensible commentary: foreshadowing here, glorious dance music there, heart breaking tragedy at the end. The sets, lighting, the dancing all blended together in a gorgeous organic whole. If I missed anyone’s contribution to this excellent work, it’s because every part fit together so exquisitely into such an extravagantly beautiful whole.
To me, this production of LA TRAVIATA exemplifies the very definition of opera. We, like most of the audience at our performance, were on our feet cheering this magnificent performance of this passionate work.
Don’t miss it. It will be at Lyric only until December 20.
Photos: Robert Kusel and Todd Rosenberg