Unlucky in love: Opera ‘La Traviata’
Special to the Daily
Giuseppe Verdi’s opera, “La Traviata,” or the fallen woman, will be the Metropolitan Opera HD Broadcast at the Breckenridge Colorado Mountain College at 11 a.m. today. The opera story is based on Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel, “The Lady of the Camellias,” the stage play version that was attended to by Verdi in 1848, prompting him to compose “La Traviata.”
Act I of the opera opens with a melodic overture introducing a joyous party in the salon of Violetta Valéry, performed by Sonya Yoncheva. She is introduced to Alfredo Germont, performed by tenor Michael Fabriano, a man about town who has long been fascinated with Violetta.
The guests invite Alfredo to propose a toast. He accepts, singing the famous drinking song “Libiano,” celebrating the occasion and his true love for Violetta. She joins in a duet reflecting her praise for free love, followed by a joyous choral tribute by the guests.
As the crowd withdraws to attend a dance in a nearby room, Violetta falls faint and stays behind. Alfredo remains by her side, again declaring his love. In the final scene, Violetta is torn by conflicting emotions — not wanting to give up her free way of life, as expressed vocally in another well-known Aria, “Sempre libera,” joined in duet by the voice of Alfredo from afar.
Act II opens in a country house near Paris where Violetta has chosen a life with Alfredo, enjoying mutual love in the country far from society. Alfredo departed for Paris to settle some financial issues. His father, Giorgio Germont, performed by Thomas Hampson, arrives to visit with Violetta. In a long-impassioned scene with exchanges of melodic arias and duets, Germont demands Violetta separate from his son, as her liaison with Alfredo has no future. After expressing her misgivings, she decides to leave Alfredo, expressed in a goodbye letter, accepting an invitation to attend a masked ball.
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The second scene in Act II comes in at the masked ball with the dancing and singing of masked characters. Alfredo also appears at the ball, having decided to attend after finding Violetta’s invitation upon his return from Paris.
Violetta, accompanied by former lover Baron Douphol, also appears on the scene. He takes part in a gaming table where he wins hand after hand — “unlucky in love, luck in cards.” Following a confrontation with Violetta, Alfredo goes into a rage and throws his winnings at her feet in disgust, an act denounced by his father, who next appears on the scene. The Baron challenges Alfredo to a duel.
Act III takes us into Violetta’s bedroom, where we learn she has been suffering with a chronic illness. Upon learning of her fate, Alfredo decides to rejoin her as soon as possible. Experiencing severe illness, Violetta fears he may arrive too late. As offstage rampant celebrations are heard, Alfredo comes in.
His reunion with Violetta is with mutual euphoria as expressed in a melodic closing duet. Her energy and joy of life return briefly as she falls in death.
Verdi himself was hopeful that “La Traviata” would be an opera staged throughout the times. His hope has been realized as the music and orchestration has remained among the top dozen operas performed through the years.
The current Met HD production remains true to form, described in a recent New York Times review as “never failing to move us, being clad first and foremost in humanity.” Coffee and tea will be served along with light snacks at the intermission for $2. Please bring a sack lunch if more food might be needed.
Elmer Koneman is a volunteer and opera enthusiast.
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