BWW Review: LA TRAVIATA at Sarasota Opera
Verdi's renowned La traviata, (The Fallen Woman), formerly titled Violetta after its tragic heroine, is beautifully cast and staged at Sarasota Opera. Story has it, inspired by a performance Verdi saw of Alexander Dumas fils's The Lady of the Camellias, he immediately started to pen La traviata. This is a wonderful opportunity to see one of Giuseppe Verdi's well know works by one of the most outstanding opera houses in the country.
We join the ill-fated courtesan Violetta Valéry (Elizabeth Tredent) in the salon of her Parisian residence as she welcomes guests to a lavish party she is hosting to celebrate her recovery from a recent illness. Although she is presently with Baron Douphol (Jared A Guest), her friend Gastone, Viscount of Letorières (Stephen Martin) brings his colleague Alfredo Germont (Andrew Surrena) to the party and tells her that during her sickness Alfredo inquired daily about her health, adoring her from afar. Attention like this not being received from Gastone, Violetta ponders her situation. Later when guests move to another room to dance, Violetta and Alfredo have the chance to speak privately as he confesses his admiration for her.
As fate would have it her tuberculosis is worsening and she feels faint and weak. She sends him off with a flower wondering if he could be the man of her dreams. The plot thickens when Alfredo's father Giorgio Germont (Marco Nisticò) gets into the mix expressing his displeasure in his son's involvement with Violetta. He finally convinces her to leave Alfredo, as his daughter cannot marry if Violetta remains with his son. She writes Alfredo a note of her abandonment. This infuriates him and he seeks out Violetta and Baron at a gathering of friends.
At the gathering Baron loses several games of cards to Alfredo. Alone with Alfredo, Violetta accuses Baron of forcing her to end their relationship. Alfredo publically humiliates her for this in front of the crowd and is admonished by his father Giorgio. Baron finally challenges Alfredo to a duel. Soon Violetta becomes gravely ill. While bedridden she receives notice from Giorgio explaining Baron is recovering from a wound from his dual with Alfredo who has left the county. Giorgio comes clean with his son about Violetta's agreement with him. In her final hours Alfredo returns to her and she briefly recaptures the strength to dream with him about being together before she tragically dies.
This is a heart-wrenching story that is sustained with beautiful music and lyrics. La traviata is a soprano's dream and Ms. Tredent is especially brilliant in her portrayal as Violetta. Her statuesque frame lends an air of royalty and sophistication to her courtesan role throughout the production. Mr. Nisticò has a duet with Tredent that will pull at your heartstrings. Stage director Stephanie Sundine maybe could have broadened the fine performances by Mr. Nisticò and Mr. Surrena. The passion I was hoping to see between Alfredo and Violetta was not abundantly clear. Mr. Guest as Baron came to life more, showing a dark side in controlling Violetta and at the party in Act II and during his gambling rage.
Scenic Designer David Gano took our breath away and once again received a round of applause as the curtain rose to a stunning and lavish opening design, boasting 2 fireplaces and a chandelier that would make Phantom jealous. Costume Coordinator Howard Tsvi Kaplan captured the sophisticated styling of the French bourgeois in every scene. As always Maestro Victor DeRenzi interpreted the score with passion and lead his accomplished orchestra with the finesse we are accustomed to receiving from him at each performance.
Sarasota is world famous for its Verdi Cycle, an endeavor that included productions of all of Verdi's operas and performances of his entire body of non-theatrical works. This 28-season initiative began in 1989 and ended in 2016. La traviata was last presented in 2009. The current production marks the return of Verdi's music for the first time since the completion of the Verdi Cycle.
La traviata runs through November 21, 2017. For more information visit www.sarasotaopera.org.