Preview of “La Traviata”
July 26. 2017
By Christopher Hyde
If you want to hear some of Verdi’s most lushly Romantic music, featured on most collections of greatest opera hits, there are still a few tickets left for tonight’s and Friday’s performances of “La Traviata” by Opera Maine (formerly PORTopera).
The production, at Merrill Auditorium, is directed by Dona D. Vaughn, with orchestra conducted by Stephen Lord. It features nationally known artists Maria Natale as Violetta and Mackenzie Whitney as Alfredo. Both are making their debut with Opera Maine, singing these leading roles for the first time.
The first performance of “La Traviata,” staged in modern dress (for 1853), was a disaster, because of the subject (which could be translated at “The Working Girl” by Joe Green), the staging and the disparity between the singers and their roles. A second try, set around 1700, was an instant success and “La Traviata” has remained one of the most popular operas of all time.
The Opera Maine production takes place in the 1930s, when Parisian drawing rooms were still elegant, and penicillin had not been invented. Where would tragic opera be without consumption?
The chorus is composed of Maine singers, under the direction of Robert Russell, and Lord considers it one of the best he has worked with.
Dona Vaughn is known for her fresh approach to operatic classics, and “La Traviata,” I’m sure, will be no exception. I’m looking forward to tonight.
Christopher Hyde is a writer and musician who lives in Pownal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.