Sunday 16 February 2020 at 6pm on RNZ Concert
Metropolitan Opera Season
VERDI: La Traviata
Aleksandra Kurzak (Violetta Valéry), Dmytro Popov (Alfredo Germont), Quinn Kelsey (Giorgio Germont), Megan Marino (Flora Bervoix), Maria Zifchak (Annina), Brian Michael Moore (Gastone), Trevor Scheunemann (Il Barone Douphol), Metropolitan Opera Chorus & Orchestra/Karel Mark Chichon
Recorded at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York
Verdi’s 'La Traviata' survived a notoriously unsuccessful opening night in 1853 to become one of the best-loved operas in the repertoire. Following the larger-scale dramas of 'Rigoletto' and 'Il Trovatore', its intimate scope and subject matter inspired the composer to create some of his most profound and heartfelt music.
The title role of the “fallen woman” has captured the imaginations of audiences and performers alike with its inexhaustible vocal and dramatic possibilities—and challenges. Violetta is considered a pinnacle of the soprano repertoire.
In a remarkable career spanning six decades in the theatre, Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) composed 28 operas, at least half of which are at the core of today’s repertoire. Francesco Maria Piave (1810–1876) was Verdi’s librettist during his productive middle period and also worked with him on 'Ernani', 'Macbeth', 'Rigoletto', and 'La Forza del Destino', among others. Alexandre Dumas fils (1824–1895) was the son of the author of The Three Musketeers. The play La Dame aux Camélias is based on his own semi-autobiographical novel of the same name.
With 'La Traviata', Verdi and Piave fashioned an opera from a play set in contemporary times—an exception in the composer’s long career. Dumas’s La Dame aux Camélias was a meditation on the author’s youthful affair with the celebrated prostitute Marie Duplessis, known as a sophisticated and well-read woman whose charms and tact far surpassed her station. The play is still staged today in its original form and exists in several film incarnations, most notably Greta Garbo’s Camille (1936).
Verdi’s musical-dramatic ability to portray the individual in a marginalized relationship to society keeps this work a mainstay on the world’s stages. The vocal and emotional scope of the title character is enormous—from her Act I show-stopper aria “Sempre libera degg’io” to the haunting regret of “Addio, del passato” in Act III to the extended Act II confrontation with her lover’s father, Germont.