Giuseppe Verdi’s opera, “La traviata,” just opened as the Atlanta Opera’s second production of the 2012-13 season.
The show is based on “La dame aux Camélias,” a play adapted from a novel by Alexandre Dumas, and is performed in Italian with English subtitles above the stage.
It is a tragic and passionate love story between Alfredo and Violetta, a worldly courtesan who is sick with tuberculosis.
As it is set in the late 19th century, all of the women in the first act of the show dance in beautiful pastel-colored gowns, at a party in Violetta’s elegant Parisian salon.
Violetta finds the only love of her life, Alfredo, at her party, and after much persuasion, she agrees to move out of Paris to a country house with him.
However, Alfredo’s father Germont, a tall burly man, confronts her and tells her she is basically ruining Alfredo’s life and family.
As I watched the story roll out, I could feel the couple’s emotions pulling me in from the stage. Mary Dunleavy, who plays Violetta, is so powerful in the performance that I could not help but have compassion for her painful heartbreak.
David Gately has directed the show about a dozen times and said his main hope is the audience is moved by the story and characters.
In my opinion, it would be hard not to at least feel and relate to one of the emotions from the two main characters who are deeply in love, whether it be overwhelming joy, fear or raw heartbreak. And as someone who is not an opera connoisseur, I believe this show is definitely a great one for novices. Gately agrees.
“It is a good one for beginners to start with because it is very approachable,” he said. “There is nothing terribly complex about what’s going on.”
“La traviata” was only my second opera; however, my first opera experience was in Lucca, Italy, in a small village church in 2011. Needless to say, my experience last week at the enormous performing arts centre was drastically different than the one in Italy.
Nonetheless, the talent in “La traviata” was enormous, especially from Dunleavy and Boris Rudak, who plays Alfredo.
Gately said the music in the show has made it one of the “hugely popular operas of our time.”
“I like coming back to it every couple of years. It’s like visiting an old friend,” he said. “Getting to deal with these characters and their relationships is fun for me.”
If you go:
o What: Atlanta Opera’s “La traviata”
o Where: Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Pkwy., near Vinings
o When: Saturday, Tuesday and March 8 and 10
o Tickets: $25 to $132, plus tax, convenience and venue fees
o Information: www.atlantaopera.org