It’s the opening of the Florida Grand Opera’s 82nd season, and this one delivers a few of the most beloved in the operatic canon. The FGO is starting with La Traviata, and audiences are already buzzing about its passion and sumptuousness.
Before the actual premier performance, nearly 1,400 students from the Miami-Dade district attended a dress rehearsal, and overwhelmingly they were thrilled to be there. Several mentioned that they enjoyed the music, the energy, and especially the lavish costumes.
Even though the opera was sung in Italian, they understood and thoroughly enjoyed the show. (And many admitted that they would love to return to the opera. The kids are alright.)
Just before the first performance, Interim General Director Maria Todaro spoke briefly to the audience. Then the music began and the audience was spellbound. La Traviata (The Fallen Woman) is one of Giuseppe Verdi’s gems, with a libretto by Francesco Maria Piave and based upon the story “La Dame aux camelias”, a novel and then a play by Alexandre Dumas, fils.
La Traviata is in three acts: the first sets up the love story, in which Violetta, a renowned courtesan of tenuous health, is giving a fancy party. A man named Alfredo comes and admits he has loved her from afar, and she ponders this. In the second act, the two are living and loving peacefully in the countryside; but then turmoil sets in when Alfredo’s father demands that they split because Violetta is besmirching the family name. They do split and it’s messy, she returns to the Baron, her former beau, but they both sing of their raw emotions. Alfredo and the Baron duel. In the third act, all the drama takes its toll on Violetta, and life is slipping away from her. Toward the finale Alfredo and Violetta sing of their love, and the audience is left crying for them and their ill-fated romance.
In the FGO performances Violetta is sung by Cecilia Violetta Lopez and Pavel Petrov makes his FGO debut as Alfredo. Lopez is fantastic and she embodies the part of Violetta so handily– and not just because her name IS Violetta. She does a wonderful rendition of the aria “Sempre libera” (Forever Free) which is a rather challenging number.
Petrov brings a wide range of feeling to his role and he is more than a mere lovestruck suitor. Also rather fine in her part is Taylor-Alexis Dupont, excellent in the supporting cast as Flora. The five dancer troupe is used expertly, with solid choreography by Rosa Mercedes.
An intriguing twist in the final act at FGO is that Violetta hallucinates about the carnival partiers coming into her home, including Alfredo with them. At the conclusion, instead of her falling lifeless, she walks toward the light, a hint of the afterlife– and it did seem credible. It has a dreamy quality that toys with the typical ending where she dies in Alfredo’s arms.
Catch La Traviata in Miami or Fort Lauderdale, and ponder the beauty and pain shared by Alfredo and Violetta.
Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County
Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House
Saturday, November 11 at 7:00 pm
Sunday, November 12 at 2:00 pm
Tuesday, November 14 at 8:00 pm
Broward Center for the Performing Arts
Thursday, November 30 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, December 2 at 7:30 pm