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Ensemble

Enchanting as Ever

Los Angeles Opera's 'La Traviata',
reviewed by MARIA NOCKIN

 

In the early 1850s, Giuseppe Verdi was a most popular composer whose operas were performed before sold-out houses night after night. Thus, after the successful première of Rigoletto on 11 March 1851 at the famous La Fenice, the thirty-eight year old musician was commissioned to write a new piece for the Venetian theater.

Elizabeth Futral as Violetta Valery and Joseph Calleja as Alfredo Germont in Act I of Verdi's 'La Traviata' in the Los Angeles Opera production. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard
Elizabeth Futral as Violetta Valery and Joseph Calleja as Alfredo Germont in Act I of Verdi's 'La Traviata' in the Los Angeles Opera production. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard

Having suffered the death of his wife and family sometime earlier, Verdi spent the decade from 1840 to 1850 working constantly. During that time he composed thirteen operas. By 1851, however, he had found a new companion, Giuseppina Strepponi, who would eventually become his second wife. Since she was then living in Paris, the two of them often attended the theater there. They saw La dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas (fils) during the winter of 1851-52. By the following autumn, the composer had decided to have the play turned into a libretto, realizing that, although the piece might have trouble with the censors in some cities, the Venetians were more liberal than most.

Elizabeth Futral as Violetta Valery in the Act I 'party scene' of Verdi's 'La Traviata'. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard
Elizabeth Futral as Violetta Valery in the Act I 'party scene' of Verdi's 'La Traviata'. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard

In late 1852 Verdi was working on the score of Il trovatore for the Teatro Apollo in Rome, so it was not until after its première, on 19 January 1853, that he began to work seriously on La traviata. He wanted to have the new piece staged in contemporary dress, but La Fenice would not allow that. The cast did not please him, either, but the show went on with the singers chosen by the management.

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Copyright © 25 June 2006 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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