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The title role of Violetta Valéry was sung by Madeline Bender who has portrayed it in Santa Fe as well as in Europe. Tall and slim, she looked the part, sang with thrust and acted with a dramatic flair that was particularly effective in the final scene. As Alfredo Germont, the lover who cannot afford her lifestyle, tenor Gabriel Gonzalez sang with sensuous tones and the distinctive dramatic vocal colors that we have come to expect from him. An attractive young man with a robust voice, one could easily understand why Violetta fell in love with him.

Baritone Gary Simpson portrayed Alfredo's father, the elder Germont, as a rather stiff upper class gentleman with narrow sensibilities. He sang with a dark sound, controlling an overly wide vibrato whenever possible. Violetta's attractive friend and confidante, Flora Bervoix, was sung with a creamy chocolate sound by Gergana Jankova. A commanding Baron Douphol, Hristo Sarafov sang with virile burnished tones. Plamen Dimitrov was a caring Doctor Grenvil and Georgui Dinev created an interesting Gastone. Violetta's perceptive maid, Annina, was the silky-toned Tzura Ivanova, while the Marquis d'Obigny was authoritatively portrayed by Vladimir Hristov. This company always has marvelous dancing and the Act III ballet was performed by first class artists.

Madeline Bender as Violetta in 'La Traviata'
Madeline Bender as Violetta in 'La Traviata'

It was an enjoyable evening with especially fine performances by the conductor and the tenor. As it turned out, this was the calm before the fire storm that enveloped that area of Southern California. We can only hope that no members of the audience lost their homes to the wind driven flames that closed down the freeways a few hours after the show's finale.

Copyright © 27 October 2007 Susan Hampton, Los Angeles, USA


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