LA Opera's La Traviata - Phenomenal Power and Beauty


La Traviata, one of Giuseppe Verdi’s most sublime and popular operas, has come to life at the LA Opera in an outstanding, artistic, power-packed production sure to appeal to opera buffs and newbies alike.


Violetta enters in 1929 Chrysler

Placido Domingo’s wife, Marta Domingo has reappeared as a creative, masterful director and production designer who gracefully recreates Verdi’s original 1850’s France in 1920’s America. The elegance and glamour of the Roaring Twenties, with its breakout morals and style, have  parallels with the era of French “Femme Fatales” and moral rebellion in that period.


Alfredo makes his love known

Now in 2014 we can look back on those times historically and appreciate the new cars, the vamp looks, the exotic cravings and Art Deco, although as far as plot points for the opera, it all gets a little contrived.  We can surely identify with the free lifestyle of Violetta, played by Nino Machaidze, who enjoys partying and being the belle of the ball.  We can understand how Alfredo, played by Arturo Chacon-Cruz, a youthful and sincere young man, can idolize the gorgeous and charming Violetta. 


Violetta mulls over Alfredo's offer

Alfredo’s proposal of love tears at Violetta’s heart and expresses itself in one of the most magnificent arias, “E’ Strano,” both musically and dramatically you will ever see as delivered by Machaidze. Should she give up her luxurious and loose lifestyle for this guy?  No, of course not.  But then, he makes her feel something she never felt before, and perhaps she should take a chance.  But no.  But maybe… and finally giving in.  Nino Machaidze is magnificent. Not only is her voice the most appealing soprano I have ever heard, but also her acting, her passion, and her expressive face make her the ultimate opera singer.


Violetta is anguished over Alfredo's offer of love

As the story is mostly from Violetta’s point of view, Machaidze delivers every moment fully and in perfect congruence with the LA Opera orchestra’s flawless and gorgeous rendition of Verdi’s music.  Marta Domingo’s innovative and yet simple sets enhance every mood, as well.  Grant Gershon's direction of the chorus is masterful, as always. The first act takes place under the warm light of a grand chandelier, which seems to nourish budding true love between Violetta and Alfredo.


Alfredo is happy but senses trouble is coming

Act II finds another simple yet majestic set of huge autumn trees with their dappled light and red leaves falling.  Autumn is an end-time to the sunny days of summer, perfect for the entrance of Georgio Germont, Alfredo’s father. He is a force to be reckoned with in the powerful presence of Placido Domingo


Germont visits Violetta

Domingo, our world-renowned tenor and LA Opera’s General Director, is perfect now as a baritone. It would take a master to be able to face down the other superstar, Machaidze.  This is where the plot starts to get a little fuzzy (as opera plots sometimes do).  Germont convinces Violetta to give up her relationship with Alfredo in order to preserve the happiness of Alredo’s sister, whose fiance’ will call it quits if Violetta and Alfredo stay together.  Germont allows the sister’s happiness to take precedence over that of his son Alfred’s. On top of that, Germont presents himself as acting in the will of God.  Violetta, feeling guilty for her previous loose lifestyle, falls for it.


Violetta tries to return to her old lifestyle

The rest of the story shows the fracturing and destruction of a broken love affair and the devastation it brings to all. Chacon-Cruz holds his own with the two maestros, and goes through his own hell when this happens.


Alfredo won't give up

At a final party scene in Act III, we are treated to exotic ballet gypsy dancers as well as an erotic toreador number, choreographed stunningly by Kitty McNamee, as Violetta is being pulled back into her previous party life and Alfredo insults her in front of her friends.


Alfredo throws money at Violetta

Violetta has an ongoing disease which flairs up in the last act.  I felt this was going to be awkward and contrived, as the plot surely is, but the singing, music and acting certainly are not -- and the story emerges squarely into a truer world of reality and emotion.


Toreador and gypsy dancers

The last scene, although supposedly inside a Parisian flat, finds Violetta’s deathbed under starry night skies.  The scene opens with a faint snow falling.  Violetta is weak and falling. Both Alfredo and late-repentant Germont arrive. The sacrifices of Violetta are acknowledged.  This gives Violetta a huge boost and will to live.  Alas, it is too late. 


Germont repents ruining the lives of Violetta and Alfredo

Melodrama.  And yet, though I was analyzing this story going in, the power of the music and the acting got to me and brought up my own tears.  How tragic for this magnificent creature to have to die.  How very sad to have this great love destroyed. And how very beautifully done.


Last moments of happiness for Violetta and Alfredo

Such is the power of opera, this great art form, especially when produced and performed by these artists at the top of their form. 


 Photos courtesy of Craig Matthew, LA Opera


Georja Umano is and actress and elephant activist.

(213) 972-8001

(213) 687-3490 fax

[email protected]


LA Opera Verdi's  "La Traviata" (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Downtown)

 remaining presentations:

Sunday, Sept. 21 - 2:00 p.m.

Tues., Sept. 23 - 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 26 - 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 28- 2:00 p.m.




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