Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Florentine Opera, “La Traviata”

On Sunday, November 10th, we went to the Marcus Center for the Florentine Opera’s production of Giuseppi Verdi’s “La Traviata.”

We were very pleased by this production, which was solidly in the classic mold. The party scenes, Act One, and Act Two Scene Two, were attractively set and beautifully costumed. Act Two Scene One and Act Three were more minimalist, but this did not detract from the relative emotional intimacy of those scenes.

As the first act began, I was reminded how wonderfully tuneful this opera is, with the first act being particularly dense with beautiful music: the opening chorus, Alfredo’s drinking song, Libiamo ne' lieti calici, the love duet, Un dì, felice, eterea, and Violetta’s rebuttal, Sempre libera – "Always free".

We had very strong singing in all the principal roles, notably Elizabeth Caballero as Violetta, Rolando Sanz as Alfredo Germont, and Mark Walters as Georgio Germont, Alfredo’s father.

Caballero as the doomed Violetta sang wonderfully, but also acted well and with courage. In the third act, with her hair apparently sweat-bedraggled by fever, she looked and acted as ill as any Violetta I have ever seen. It’s hard to like Alfredo—the character is a self-absorbed fathead—but Sanz comes as close as anyone I recall. The typical curse of any “Traviata” production is to have an Alfredo who is weedy and whiny. Sanz, stocky, vigorous, and bearded, stands apart from the pack, projecting enough personality that it’s possible to accept Violetta falling in love with him.

Mark Walters was solidly good as the old Germont, although not the most impressive I have seen. However, his stage acting was excellent. The new set of supertitles for this production, in the libretto, make it clear that Georgio knows exactly the kind of sacrifice he is asking from Violetta—an ultimate lonely death—and Walters’ voice and action underscore his uncompromising requirement.

The supporting cast, chorus, and dancers all performed flawlessly. The orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Joseph Mechavich, got a bit loud in the first act, but soon settled down and gave an otherwise excellent reading of Verdi’s score.

All up, a very satisfying, beautiful, and enjoyable afternoon at the opera.

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Tags: florentine, opera
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