Lyric Opera Produces LA TRAVIATA, Opens 3/14

Kansas City opera fans have been waiting 10 years for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City to produce the audience favorite, La Traviata. On March 14, 16, 18, 20, & 22, 2009 the Lyric Opera of Kansas City will present Verdi's spellbinding tragedy, La Traviata at the Lyric Theatre in downtown Kansas City.

Under the spell of one exquisite party, Violetta is tempted - and eventually swayed - to abandon her life of endless immoral pleasure to join lovesick Alfredo in the love affair of a lifetime despite Violetta's secret terminal disease. Violetta's colored past proves to be a hurdle for Alfredo's father, who persuades her to leave Alfredo for his own good. The pair is only reunited for the final moments of Violetta's life.

Mary Dunleavy has received rave reviews for her performances as Violetta from Opera News, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and San Francisco Chronicle. Leighton Kerner of The Village Voice raved, "Mary Dunleavy's singing as Violetta sparkles and warms your heart, and her acting of the complex title role remains unsurpassed in my 53-year experience of this opera."
Miss Dunleavy has portrayed Violetta across the country including at the Metropolitian Opera, San Fransisco Opera, New York City Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and Connecticut Opera. In addition to performing in La Traviata, Miss Dunleavy has recently debuted with Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels as Aspasia in Mitridate, re di Ponto and Los Angeles Opera as the Infanta in Der Zweg.
World-renowned Director Comes Home to Direct Production

Kathleen Smith Belcher will come home to make her Lyric Opera of Kansas City directing debut with La Traviata. Miss Belcher is a resident of Liberty, Missouri and is married to opera singer Daniel Belcher, who recently portrayed Marcello in the Company's 08-09 season opener, La bohème. Miss Belcher is in her 8th year as a member of the directing staff at the Metropolitan Opera. Among others, she has worked extensively with the San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera and the San Diego Opera.

Belcher assisted Peter Sellars on the world premiere of John Adams' Dr. Atomic in San Francisco and helped to remount the production for The Netherlands Opera (Amsterdam), and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Miss Belcher has worked with acclaimed directors Woody Allen, Anthony Minghella, Bartlett Sher and Julie Taymor. Recently, she directed an acclaimed production of Madama Butterfly for the San Francisco Opera, which was shown in movie theatres nation-wide. Her direction was hailed as "exceptional, giving the audience a number of indelible moments" by San Francisco Classical Voice and as "studded with imaginative and telling details" by San Francisco Chronicle.
Holmquist and Luskin Celebrate 10 Years of Artistic Excellence

For the last 10 years the Lyric Opera of Kansas City has been headed up by Artistic Director Ward Holmquist and General Director Evan Luskin and La Traviata marks not only the 10 year anniversary of the partnership but also the first production they jointly worked on together.
General Director Evan Luskin reminisces, "La Traviata was the first opera on which Ward Holmquist and I worked together. For both of us it represented the fulfillment of goals we had each held for many years. I wanted to be the general director of the Lyric Opera, and Ward wanted to be the artistic director of an opera company. On September 19, 1998, we saw the curtain rise on a production we had put together as general director and artistic director of the Lyric. It was a very special and very proud moment for each of us, and on the tenth anniversary of that La Traviata, we could think of no better way to celebrate than to share this masterpiece with the public once again."
Star-Studded Cast to Perform Opera Classic Including UMKC Apprentices

Internationally known tenor Chad Shelton will portray Alfredo, a role in which he has received critical acclaim at Arizona Opera, Utah Opera, Central City Opera and Nevada Opera. The Denver Post reported, "Chad Shelton...never missed a beat as the impassioned Alfredo, Violetta's persistent lover. His powerful tenor easily played into his character's zealous ardor..." In addition to national success, Mr. Shelton has performed around the globe including Opéra National de Lorraine in France, Grand Théâtre de Genève in Switzerland, Opéra National de Lorraine in France, Théâtre de Caen in France, and Opéra de Toulon in France.
When Mr. Shelton last performed with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City in The Rake's Progress in 2001 he received a glowing review from Paul Horsley at The Kansas City Star, "Chad Shelton...sang with a bright, sagacious energy that rarely flagged during the three-act opera...his clear tenor was a joy, and in the third-act Bedlam scene he approached tragic poetry."
Graduate students from the University of Missouri - Kansas City Conservatory of Music that are in the Lyric Opera of Kansas City apprentice program will round out much of the cast. Benjamin Hilgert who has appeared with the Company in The Magic Flute and John Brown will portray Gastone. Mr. Hilgert has also appeared at Central City Opera, Tulsa Opera, Indianapolis Opera and Aspen Opera Theatre Center. Apprentice Jonathan Stinson will portRay Baron Duophol. Mr. Stinson has appeared at the Lyric Opera as Owen Brown in John Brown and Schaunard in La bohème. In addition to his work with the Company Mr. Stinson has appeared with Opera New Jersey, Central City Opera, Opera Memphis, Springfield Regional Opera, and L'viv and Odessa State Opera Houses (Ukraine).

Apprentice Andrew Harris will perform the role of Marchese D'Obigny. Mr. Harris has performed with the Company in The Magic Flute (Priest #1), John Brown (Ralph Waldo Emerson), La bohème (Beniot/Alcindoro) and Julius Caesar (Achilla). He has received training from DePaul University, West Virginia University, University of Michigan, Central City Opera, and l'Université de Nancy in France. Apprentice Jennifer Forte will perform the role of Flora Bervoix. Miss Forte has performed several roles with Westminster Opera Theatre such as Ursula in Beatrice and Benedict, Mum in Albert Herring and Marcellina in The Marriage of Figaro. First year apprentice Sarah Burke will perform Annina. Her recent projects include Mimì in La bohème (UMKC), Mercédès in Carmen (Kansas Concert Opera), Micaela in Carmen and Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance (City Opera Company of the Quad).
La Traviata Performance Information
Music by Giuseppe Verdi
Performed in Italian with English subtitles projected above the stage
Lyric Theatre, 11th and Central, Downtown Kansas City
5 performances: March 14, 16, 18, 20, & 22, 2009
Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8 p.m.; Monday and Wednesday curtains are at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday is a 2:00 p.m. matinee.

Audiences are invited and encouraged to attend a free opera preview in the theatre one hour before curtain, presented by the Lyric Opera Guild.
Ticket availability varies by performance. Limited student rush tickets are $10 one hour before curtain, with valid ID. To purchase tickets, visit, or call the ticket office at (816) 471-7344 or 1-800-OPERAKC (673-7252).

The Lyric Opera of Kansas City is a member of OPERA America, and this production is made possible with funding from Missouri Arts Council, Arts KC Fund and Master Craftsmen Foundation.

Cast List
Violetta Valery: Mary Dunleavy
Alfredo Germont: Chad Shelton
Giorgio Germont: Lester Lynch
Gastone: Benjamin Hilgert
Baron Duophol: Jonathan Stinson
Marchese D'Obigny: Andrew Harris
Dr. Grenvil: Scott Conner
Flora Bervoix: Jennifer Forte
Annina: Sarah Burke
Artistic Staff
Conductor: Ward Holmquist
Director: Kathleen Smith Belcher
Scenic Designer: Peter Dean Beck
Costumes Designer: Malabar
Lighting Designer: Helena Kuukka
Chorusmaster/Accompanist Coach: Mark Ferrell
Wig and Makeup Designer: Jan Delovage
Production Stage Manager: Erin Thompson


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