by Giuseppe Verdi
Sung in Italian with projected English translations
Approximate Running Time: 2 hours, 50 minutes with 2 intermissionsVERDI’S MUSIC IS INCOMPARABLE, WITH ONE HEARTSTOPPINGLY BEAUTIFUL MELODY AFTER ANOTHER, in this exquisitely romantic story. Within the social whirl of sophisticated Paris, the courtesan Violetta lives purely for pleasure but longs for true love. She finds the right man in Alfredo, but their happiness is cut short: at his father’s insistence, Violetta leaves Alfredo for the sake of his family. Her spirit broken, her health shattered, Violetta now lives only with the hope that Alfredo will return to her. La traviata gives us one of opera’s most glorious heroines, a woman of boundless humanity and emotional depth.
Review of Opera “La Traviata” at Lyric
By Catherine Hellmann, guest critic
Even though it was her first opera, my daughter Emily’s head was happily bobbing along with the music in Act I, recognizing the famous aria “Sempre Libera” by the lovely courtesan, Violetta Valery. (New Zealand folk band Flight of the Conchords would refer to her in their song,”The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room,” as a “High-Class Prostitute.” “Courtesan” sounds almost respectable.) I reassured Skeptical Em that she would love the opera, find the music familiar, and be impressed with the costumes especially. Yes, on all counts!
Except My Big Girl also had her own take on some plot points: “Honey, your dress costs more than a peasant’s salary for a year. Didn’t they realize this would spell trouble?” “Oh, yeah, they’re having fun now...wait a few years until the Revolution…”
As the show opens in 1860 Paris, Violetta is hosting a soiree after recovering from a serious illness (can you say “foreshadowing”?). Violetta, feeling faint, is the Hostest with the Mostest, and encourages her friends to go ahead and celebrate without her in the next room. (And none of her guests/moochers inquire how she is feeling? Girlfriend needs new friends.)
Her pal, Gastone de Letorieres, (not to be confused with the sexist hunter from “Beauty and the Beast,” one of Em’s favorites) introduces Belle (I mean Violetta) to his friend and her admirer, Alfredo Germont. Alfredo has been vigilant about visiting Violetta every day throughout her illness. They fall in love through song; by Act II, they are living together in the country! But they are broke...Violetta is slyly selling her possessions for their expenses. (“They say our love won’t pay the rent…” Couldn’t resist...It’s not often one can get a Sonny and Cher reference in when describing Verdi!)
Alfredo’s father arrives and wants to break up the relationship, fearing that Violetta’s past life as a ‘ho (he sings it much better in Italian!) will threaten his daughter’s marriage prospects. He is pleasantly surprised to discover Violetta’s true love for his son. But Violetta selflessly breaks things off with the love of her life by leaving him a farewell note. Alfredo misunderstands and humiliates Violetta at a party. Sigh…at least the elder Germont sees the truth and calls his son out for insulting Violetta and being a dick.
By Act III, a month later, Violetta is dying of that romantic heroine disease, Tuberculosis, also called Consumption. Alfredo learns of her sacrifice, and he arrives in time for his beloved to die in his arms. Of course. Curtain.
The music for “La Traviata” is gorgeous. The singers were marvelous, especially Russian soprano Albina Shagimuratova as our doomed goddess/hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold, and Italian tenor Giorgio Berrugi as Alfredo. Zeljko Lucic was also impressive as the father whose opinion of Violetta changes dramatically.
Whether you have seen this standard repertoire piece numerous times, like myself, or are a first-timer like Emily, you will love this gorgeous classic playing at our marvelous Lyric Opera House!
Catherine Hellmann inspires middle schoolers by day and attends as much theater as possible by night. If she could have a Super Power, it would be to never need sleep...she is getting close to this goal.
DONNA VAN EEKEREN
FOUNDATION THE MICHAEL AND
NANCY AND SANFRED
KOLTUN LAUTER MCDOUGAL
CHARITABLE FUND BMO HARRIS BANK
Coproduction of Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, and Canadian Opera Company.
Follow along on social media #LyricTraviata
7 REASONS LA TRAVIATA IS A CAN'T-MISS PRODUCTION
Violetta is the ultimate party girl, and her risqué lifestyle might cost her the love of her life. Only 7 performances remain of the critically acclaimed La traviata; here are 7 reasons La traviata is a can't-miss live theater experience:
1. The costumes are stunning. From elaborate parties to country estates, Violetta and the rest of the cast are dressed to impress by costume designer Cait O’Connor.
2. Albina Shagimuratova shines as Violetta. The Chicago Tribune is calling her "a superb singing actress...as thrilling to hear as her acting was compelling to behold."
3. Verdi's music is unforgettable. Opera experts and newcomers alike will recognize songs like "Sempre libera." Listen to some of our favorites!
4. Calling all culture vultures. A story as timeless as this never gets old; La traviata has inspired pop culture favorites like Pretty Woman and Moulin Rouge.
5. Paris is beautiful this time of year. Get swept up in the social whirl of sophisticated Paris with Violetta as she discovers love, loss, and redemption.
6. Prices to fit every budget. Tickets start at just $49 you don't have to break the bank to have a special night out!
7. Critics love it. Find out for yourself why Broadway World is calling it "the best of all things opera."
La traviata must close March 22 — don't miss your chance to experience this breathtaking production. Save your seats today online or over the phone at 312.827.5600.