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La Traviata, Pacific Opera

October 12, 2001
By Robert Mitchell


Pacific Opera’s Viva Verdi! Festival closes this month with the opening of La Traviata, Verdi’s epic tale of love, betrayal and the shocking price of holiday rentals. Robert Mitchell, our man on the aisle was there, and now he’s here with his review.

You know David, it seems the world just can’t get enough of consumptive courtesans with hearts of gold. Just look at this summer’s sleeper hit ‘Moulin Rouge’ with Nicole Kidman. She still managed to look stunning while spitting up chunks of lung between production numbers. But it was really Verdi’s controversial La Traviata, based on the Dumas play La Dame Aux Camélias that first forced opera goers to confront the bourgeois morality of the day. The character of Violetta is actually based on a certain Parisian prostitute, Alphonsine Duplessis that Dumas was said to have visited as a young man.

The story begins in Paris where a party is being held for Violetta, a well known courtesan. Introduced to the headstrong young Alfredo, she is eventually convinced to run off with him to the country and renounce the wicked city and her even more wicked ways. When Germont, Alfredo’s father finds them, he begs her to give up his son so that the family isn’t dragged down in the scandal of their illicit love. Pretending to return to her old ways, she spurns Alfredo. When he realizes all too late the sacrifice she has made, he returns to beg her forgiveness, only to find her dying of consumption – the polite word for tuberculosis.

Now they say a soprano never forgets her first time, her first Violetta that is and Sally Dibblee made a spectacular debut last night in a moving performance that overshadowed virtually everyone on stage. With her voice glistening like spun glass, she had the audience glued to their seats in silent anticipation of each coloratura passage. The only coughs heard were on stage. Kurt Lehman’s Alfredo was stiff at times, but managed convincing tenderness during their duets and in the final scene. Baritone Mark Pedrotti as Germont turned in a top-notch performance. His rich, melodic voice was the highlight of the second act, particularly Di Provenza il mar.

Starting in the golden salons of Paris, with Violetta’s trademark Camelias rising like champagne bubbles to the sky, to the sinister dark velvet of act three to the final blue canopy of angels that overlook her deathbed, the set design by Eduardo Sicangco won applause each time the curtain rose. The shimmering palette of lighting designer Lesley Wilkinson only added to the set’s drama.

In fact, everyone, from director Diana Leblanc to chorus master Robert Holliston and of course conductor Guiseppe Pietraroia contributed to the artistic success that mark the beginning of a season worth watching. As my companion last night put it, “…it was actually worth missing the first night of Survivor for!”

Posted on Feb 5, 2008 by Registered CommenterEduardo Sicangco in | Comments Off

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