Guissepe Verdi's opera La Traviata is the final Metropolitan Opera live High Definition broadcast of the 2011-12 season. Starting at 11 a.m. Saturday and running approximately four hours, the showing takes place again at the Finkel Auditorium at Colorado Mountain College, Breckenridge. The broadcast is co-sponsored by the National Repertory Orchestra and Colorado Mountain College.
Also this week, patrons will be able to take advantage of rare interviews and backstage scenes as well as informal discussions during opera intermissions. Cost of admission is $20 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $10 for students.
In keeping with broadcasts of this season, soprano lead Violetta Valery represents a cast of heroines of previous operas who were caught up in misguided love affairs, internal emotional struggles, and closing death and transfiguration scenes. "La Traviata," is a tragic tale of the courtesan Violetta Valery and a timeless masterpiece of soaring passion and fatal sacrifice. Natalie Dessay dons the iconic red dress in her first Met performance as Violetta. Matthew Polenzani sings the role of her besotted lover, Alfredo.
We encounter in the opening act the heroine Violetta at a solon party, when she joins in the famous drinking song, "Libiamo", initiated by an invited guest, introduced as Alfredo. The song ends with a joint chorus of guests singing in praise of drink, love, and happiness. As the guests leave for activity in an adjacent room, Violetta has a fainting spell. Left alone, Alfredo, with his eye on Violetta, expresses his vision of love with her in another well-known tenor aria, "Un di filice" (Oh Happy Day). In contemplating whether Alfredo indeed is her future love, she expresses her feelings in another classic aria, "Sempre libera".
As the plot continues into Act II, Alfredo and Violetta are seen living in a country house near Paris. The plot thickens when Alfredo discovers that Violetta is pawning away her possessions to pay for their time together. He leaves to resolve the situation. Most of Act II involves a gripping interchange between Violetta and Germont, Alfredo's father, indicating that her affair with Alfredo is negatively affecting their family and she should depart. In the end, she leaves Alfredo after self-reflection on what her future life may hold.
The scene then changes to an evening soiree arranged by her friend Flora. Violetta arrives accompanied by another lover, one Baron Douphol. Soon thereafter, Alfredo interrupts the proceedings in anger over Violetta's unfaithful departure. The Baron challenges Alfredo to a heated card game, losing a fortune. In a fit of anger, Alfredo throws the money at the feet of Violetta, who collapses away. Germont enters in time to see this and denounces his son's behavior.
Act III is Violetta's familiar death scene. Annina, her mistress, learns from a visiting doctor that Violetta has not long to live: tuberculosis has claimed her. Violetta learns that Alfredo is on his way back to beg her pardon. Germont, accompanied with the doctor, also arrives, expresses regrets over his past behavior. Soon Violetta is seized with a last resurgence of strength, staggers, and falls dead at her lover's feet.
Despite the unfortunate ending, the music for this opera is superb throughout, with many melodious arias, often with supporting chorus, splendid acting, comely costuming, and engaging orchestral preludes to each of the acts, with Fabrio Luisi at the podium. The part of Violetta will be acted and sung by soprano Natalie Dessay, Alfredo by tenor Matthew Polenzani, and Germont by baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky. "La Traviata" is an opera that continues to enthrall the seasoned opera buff, but also serves as a spectacular introduction to opera for all newcomers.