If you have never been to the opera, there is no better introduction to that incredibly passionate world than to see La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi (whose 200th birthday Ottawa’s Opera Lyra is celebrating with this opera-in-concert production). According to Operabase, an on-line database of opera performances, La Traviata was number one in terms of worldwide performances last year. And you can catch an outstanding production of it Saturday night (March 23rd). Opera Lyra and the National Arts Centre Orchestra teamed up to blow you away with this classic.
It’s a tragic love story. (Verdi based it on Alexandre Dumas’ novel and play, La Dame aux camélias.) In a nutshell, party girl courtesan Violetta falls in love with Alfredo (in spite of herself), leaves her party life for him. His father convinces her to dump him because their affair is a bit scandalous for his family, given her past. She does so because she loves Alfredo and doesn’t want to hurt his family. Alfredo thinks she has dumped him for another guy and gets mad. Other intervening stuff occurs but in the end, Alfredo discovers the truth and comes to Violetta but poor Violetta is on her deathbed. She dies in her lover’s arms.
That’s the story. As for the artists who sing the glorious music, all are incredible. Corinne Winters (Violetta) gave a heart-wrenchingly beautiful performance and Gregory Dahl (Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father) also stood out. That said, everyone was fantastic.
Given it is an opera-in-concert, there is no set or costumes. The female performers are in ball gowns and the men in tuxes. And Opera Lyra’s opera-in-concert production is proof that you don’t need any of that heavy costuming to enjoy an opera. The music, the instruments, the voices and the passion are all that is required to transport you into that world. For those who want to follow the lyrics, there is an overhead screen with translation in English and French.
The entire Opera Lyra chorus is on stage, as is NACO, and when they all combine, it is mind-blowing. The full orchestra brings the music alive, but it is always amazing how the beautiful voices are never overtaken by the full orchestra. They are perfectly matched.
Opera Lyra has had a rough ride, but it is truly an inspirational story of survival. The quality of Opera Lyra’s productions is always superb, breathtaking and moving.
In 2014, Opera Lyra will have fully-staged productions (Bizet’s Carmen and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly), with sets, costumes but again, Opera Lyra’s La Traviata is proof that you don’t really need any of that.
Catch La Traviata on Saturday, March 23rd, one night only at the NAC, starting at 8 p.m. www.operalyra.ca Tickets run $15-$120.