La Traviata

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“La Traviata” is back at The Met, and we think that opera lovers and everyone else should go! Now, being fair, I think that “La Traviata” is not only one of Verdi’s greatest achievements, but one of the greatest of operas. The story is a classic, boy (Alfredo) meets girl (Violetta, a courtesan), they fall in love, he seeks to “rescue her,” his father (Germont) breaks up the relationship and Violetta dies (although in death is accepted by the family). Sort of a “Romeo and Juliet” light, but Romeo does not die!

I don’t think the opera has a bad note, but saying that, this is Violetta’s opera. The soprano is on the stage for virtually the entire opera, and vocally she commands the opera. If you don’t have a good Violetta, you don’t have an opera, and The Met has a dandy. The Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva commands the stage with a great voice and effective acting. The Alfredo is the New Jersey tenor Michael Fabiano who is effective and the night we heard him, he got progressively better as the evening wore on. The only disappointment was the Germont – in this case Thomas Hampson — who is just OK. The last time we saw it we heard Hvorostovsky — now that was a Germont.

The production is contemporary and originated in Salzburg. It employs a stark stage setting with a cast — with the exception of Violetta in black (she is in red). It uses a clock — perhaps trite as it winds down to Violetta’s death — but it works. We loved the production which is really quite moving. I was reduced to tears once again.

Martin McKerrow

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