BWW Reviews: The Union Avenue Opera's Exquisite Production of LA TRAVIATA

BWW Reviews: The Union Avenue Opera's Exquisite Production of LA TRAVIATA

When you think of classic operas La Traviata is certainly one that immediately comes to mind. Composer Giuseppe Verdi (with a libretto by Francesco Maria Piave) created a wonderful piece that has stood the test of time, and when hearing it, you'll often find a number of familiar themes, some of which have appeared as background underscoring for cartoons, films, and commercials. It has all the elements that define our conceptions of what opera is: a superb score, the demand for inspired performances, and a tragic love story. The Union Avenue Opera has put together a memorable and moving production of this timeless work that demands your time and attention.

The story follows a courtesan named Violetta who doesn't want to give up her lifestyle, despite the fact that the demands it places upon her are causing great detriment to her health. Enter Alfredo Germont, a man with deep feelings for her, who wants her to give up her life as a courtesan and choose a life with him instead. But, their idyllic life in the country is compromised when Giorgio Germont, Alfredo's father, misinterprets Violetta's intentions and tells her that their love has no future. In the end, Alfredo is able to reconnect with his lost love, but Violetta's euphoria over their rekindling is tempered by the fact that she is dying.

Zulimar Lopez-Hernandez does outstanding work as Violetta, and her soprano voice is more than up to the demands of the score, which is challenging, particularly since the character is ill. She's paired with Riccardo Iannello as Alfredo and the blending of her voice with his tenor is simply marvelous. Both are able to convey their emotions and desires vocally as well as through their acting performances. Robert Garner makes an impression as well as Giorgio, and even though the character's motivations seem at odds with his son's, he doesn't come across as a villain, but more as a concerned father who may be more misguided in his actions than anything else. Mark Freiman is also quite good as Baron Douphol, a rival for Violetta's affections. In fact, the entire cast does remarkable work and includes: Debra Hillebrand (Flora Bervoix), Debby Lennon (Annina), Anthony Heinemann (Gastone), Phillip Bullock (Marquis d'Obigny), Robert Reed (Doctor Grenvil), Jon Garret (Giuseppe), and Philip Touchette (Messenger).

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Chris Gibson Chris has been active in the local theatre scene for over 30 years. In addition to his acting work, he's also contributed as a director, writer and composer. Though, initially a film buff, he grew tired of the sanitized, PG-13 rated blockbusters that were being continually shoved down his throat by the studios. An opportunity to review theatre in St. Louis has grown exponentially with the sudden explosion of venues and talent in the region. He now finds himself obsessed with witnessing those precious, electric moments that can only happen live, on stage.