La Traviata: A Review

La Traviata is the  finale of the Vancouver Opera’s 2010-2011 Season and I was invited to blog the opera on opening night on 30 April 2011. I happily accepted and I loved the experience.

In the first two acts before the intermission we meet Violetta and Alfredo, the star crossed lovers. For three months they are happy and locked away from the world until Alfredo’s father makes Violetta give up Alfredo for the sake of his daughter.  He doesn’t tell his son what he is doing and makes Violetta feel guilty enough for her past life that she lies to Alfredo and tells him she is going back to her benefactor the Barron. Alfredo believes and is consumed with jealousy.   In the next two acts we have Violetta trying to party herself to death and Alfredo making a total fool of himself. Alfredo’s father becomes so  upset at his son’s behaviour, and because Violetta is so sick, that he (Alfredo’s father) relents and tells Alfredo of Violetta’s sacrifice. In the last act Violetta is dying and Alfredo and his father make is just in time for her death.

The singing was beautiful and it was a great mixture of big group numbers and solos. Erin Wall as Violetta was fabulous. Her control in her singing blew me away especially in the last act where she spends half the act singing while  lying down in a bed. Her voice is very clear and not over done with vibrato. David Pomeroy, who played Alfredo, was good too, but he didn’t blow me away like Erin did. I think this is perhaps because I identify much more with Erin’s voice and character, not that I am in any way a courtesan, because of her sacrifices. The other characters and opera chorus were good and the whole production was beautiful.

One thing I was not prepared for were some of the random thoughts that came through my head, especially when it came to Violetta’s sickness. Since she had tuberculous one of the first things that jumped out at me is how sad it is that people used to die from diseases that are now preventable and treatable. Then I thought about how diseases like tuberculosis are coming back  into the mainstream. People are getting mumps and measles and other fully preventable diseases because of a decrease in vaccinations. Then I felt anger that not only was Violetta dying without her lover, but that so many people are unnecessarily sick in real life.

The thing that I love about opera is that no matter how odd it might be to have a whole story told in song, there is always something to draw you in further. A good opera makes you feel, even if you don’t understand the language. There were so many times I was so entranced by the music that I forgot to take a peek up to the subtitles.

La Traviata plays April 30, May 3,5,7,10 & 12, 2011 Call 604.683.0222 for ticket information.

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Disclosure: I was invited to the April 30th show and I was given two tickets. I was encouraged to blog about the opera but not required to. All opinions on this blog are my own.

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