By Mona Day
Special to the Culver City Obseerver 

Giuseppe Verdi's Romantic Tragedy

 

LA Opera will present a beloved staple of the opera repertoire, Giuseppe Verdi's romantic tragedy La Traviata, from April 6 through 27.

The story of La Traviata, The Fallen Woman, follows the Parisian courtesan Violetta Valéry whose love affair with Alfredo Germont offers her an unexpected taste of true love, but also devastating consequences when Alfredo's father intervenes.

The story is based on the life of a real woman Marie Duplessis who rose from poverty to become one of 19th-century Paris's most celebrated courtesans before dying from tuberculosis in her prime at age 23. Writer Alexandre Dumas based his romantic novel La Dame aux Camélias on their brief affair and subsequently adapted the novel into a hugely successful play upon which Verdi based his opera.

Marie's tragically short life continues to both haunt and inspire creative expression in film from the silent era to modern times, including the 1936 Greta Garbo classic Camille, the 1990 romantic comedy Pretty Woman, and the 2001 musical Moulin Rouge! Franco Zeffrelli directed a film of the opera in 1982 starring LA Opera's Placido Domino.

One of 1850s trio of Verdi's most popular operas, La Traviata is an example of French influenced romantic realism that was calculated to test the moral tolerance of its contemporary audience. The Parisian drawing rooms were habited by men like Alfredo's father who had no problems with carousing and gambling themselves, but saw a courtesan, even an epitome of selfless love as morally inferior. When Traviata first played in London, the theater provided no translation of the libretto, fearing that might cause moral offense.

Since its 1853 premiere, however, La Traviata has won the hearts of generations of opera fans with its memorable music with deep emotional resonance highlighted by the prelude, and showstopping arias like Violetta's Sempre libera to make it one of the most popular operas in the repertoire. History has proven the last laugh to be Violetta's and Verdi's, as the fallen woman and her creator sing their way into immortality as the beloved La Traviata.

Music Director James Conlon will conduct five of the six performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, with Louis Lohraseb conducting on April 18. The production, new to Los Angeles, premiered in San Francisco Opera in 2022. Directed by Shawna Lucey, it stars Rachel Willis-Sørensen as Violetta and Armenian tenor Liparit Avetisyan as her lover Alfredo.

The opera is sung in Italian with English subtitles. The running time is approximately two hours and 55 minutes, including two intermissions.

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