Madison Opera Presents LA TRAVIATA Next Month

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Madison Opera opens its 59th season with Verdi's La Traviata, one of the most popular operas in the world, on Friday, November 1 at 8 PM and Sunday, November 3 at 2:30 PM in Overture Hall.

Set in mid-19th century Paris, the opera tells of Violetta, a courtesan who tries to follow her heart. Societal pressures force her to leave the man she loves, and an incurable illness takes care of the rest. Glittering parties contrast with quiet desperation, and ravishing music underscores all-consuming emotions.

"Only a few operas ever achieve a truly beloved status - and La Traviata is one of them," says Kathryn Smith, Madison Opera's General Director. "For an opera that is over 150 years old, its story is quite modern: a young woman trying to overcome the limitations that society has placed on her because of her class and gender, searching for happiness yet willing to make sacrifices. Plus it is full of very famous music, from the 'Brindisi' to 'Sempre Libera' and more. It's always a pleasure to have a new generation discover this work, and to share it with opera omnivores who know it well."

La Traviata is based on the play and novel La Dame aux Camélias by Alexandra Dumas fils, which were in turn based on his real-life relationship with the courtesan Marie Duplessis, who died in 1847 of consumption. The play was an instant hit when it premiered in Paris in 1852, and Verdi turned it into an opera the following year. While the first production of the opera was not a success, due to the poor singing of two cast members and the physical unsuitability of one singer, its second production was acclaimed, and the opera swiftly became one of the most performed operas in the world, a status it has not lost.

Both the opera and the play have inspired countless films including Camille (with Greta Garbo), Pretty Woman (with Julia Roberts), and Moulin Rouge (with Nicole Kidman).

Madison Opera's Artistic Director John DeMain states, "La Traviata has been a part of my artistic life since the very beginning of my career - it's one of the reasons I so wanted to conduct opera. The heartfelt and tragic story of a love that was cut short by both health and cultural circumstances is still deeply moving today. The role of Violetta is a tour de force that ranges from high-flying coloratura to dramatic vocalism, with a strongly-etched character. I love this opera so deeply and look forward to conducting it for our audience."

Returning to Madison Opera as Violetta is Cecilia Violetta López (Carmen), who the Washington Post called "as compelling a Violetta as I've seen." Mackenzie Whitney (Florencia en el Amazonas) returns as Alfredo, the young man for whom she sacrifices everything. Weston Hurt debuts with Madison Opera as Alfredo's father Germont, whose disapproval of his son's relationship with Violetta has tragic consequences.

Madison Opera's Studio Artists are featured: Kirsten Larson as Flora, Emily Secor as Annina, Benjamin Hopkins as Gastone, and Stephen Hobe as the Marquis d'Obigny. Rounding out the cast are Benjamin Sieverding (Romeo & Juliet) as Dr. Grenvil and Benjamin Major in his Madison Opera debut as Baron Douphol.

Fenlon Lamb directs this traditional production in her Madison Opera debut. John DeMain conducts, with the Madison Opera Chorus and Madison Symphony Orchestra.

Related event details and full cast and production information are enclosed. To request production photos, to schedule artist interviews, or for more information, please contact Marketing Manager Andrew Rogers at or 608.238.8085.

Madison Opera's production of La Traviata is sponsored by the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation, Bert and Diane Adams, Carla & Fernando Alvarado, Chun Lin, Patricia & Stephen Lucas, Millie & Marshall Osborn, Kato & David Perlman, the Wallach Family, Helen Wineke, Capitol Lakes, and the Wisconsin Arts Board.

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