Verdi’s magnificent ‘La Traviata’ comes to the Center for the Arts

4 mins read

By Alan Schuster

Not only is Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata” (The fallen woman) considered the perfect romantic melodrama, it was also unique to early audiences in that it was the first serious opera ever written in a contemporary setting. 

In the words of the French novelist Marcel Proust: “In ‘La Traviata,’ Verdi has lifted Alexandre Dumas’s play ‘La Dame aux Camelias’ into the realm of art.” It has even been referred to as a “four movement symphony for voices.” 

However, the day after its premier in Venice in 1851, a greatly admired composer referred to it as “a complete fiasco.” Who said it? Verdi! He was very disappointed in the singers, the orchestra, the production and even the audience.  

A few weeks later, the opera began to gather momentum and  soon was acclaimed by opera fans and critics throughout Italy and beyond. Now, locals can enjoy the live Met performance in HD at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 11, at the USCB Center for the Arts.

Act I

At a party in the home of Parisian courtesan Violetta Valery, an admirer, Alfredo Germont,  makes a toast to the pleasures of wine. Violetta responds, singing in praise of love. When the guests depart, Violetta collapses, coughing. Alfredo stays behind to declare his love for her. Violetta tells him that she will only live a few more months, but that he can come back when the camellia she has given him has faded. 

Act II, Scene 1

Violetta and Alfredo are living together at her country home. When Alfredo journeys to Paris to prevent Violetta’s home from being sold, Alfredo’s father, Germont, visits Violetta, imploring her to give up the relationship. She yields, asking only to tell Alfredo herself. Violetta leaves Alfredo with a note, announcing that they are finished. Scene 2: Alfredo finds Violetta at her friend Flora’s party where she is with Baron Duphol, her former lover. Duphol gambles with Alfredo and loses. Alfredo confronts Violetta who tells him that she no longer loves him. He throws all his winnings at her. His father disowns him, and Duphol challenges Alfredo to a duel.  

Act III

Violetta’s bedroom, a few months later. Annina, Violetta’s maid learns that she is dying. Violetta reads a letter from Germont, telling her that Alfredo now knows of her sacrifice and is returning to be with her. As the lovers are reunited, Germont arrives, but it’s too late, and Violetta dies in Alfredo’s arms. 

When the opera reached London in the 1850s, its huge success was such that The London Times wrote: “Once more, frantic crowds struggled in the lobbies of the theatre; once more dresses were torn and hats crushed; once more a mania possessed the public.” 

For Saturday’s performance, casual attire is recommended. 

Soprano Sonya Yoncheva is the doomed courtesan, joined by tenor Michael Fabiano as her lover, Alfredo, and  baritoneThomas Hampson as the elder Germont.

Tickets are now available. All seats are general admission. Adults $20; OLLI members $18; students $10. Order online at www.centerforthearts.com or by calling 843-521-4145. The box office opens at noon

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