SAN JOSE: La Traviata, at Opera San Jose, is one of the most famous operas in the world. Even though the story was originally told in the 1850s, it is a tried and true tale of love and tragedy. Some things have not changed much in 165 years. Love, the longing for love, materialism, and tragedy are still very much with us today.
The story of Verdi
Verdi delicately portrays the story of a younger, kept woman, Violetta. She keeps some of the wealthiest men in Paris company. In return for her affections, they shower her with riches.
In today’s day and age, Violetta would be arm candy at a party and potentially a gold digger. She is never in it for love, but in it for the money and the lifestyle. Violetta collects her riches as she counts the days of being free from these men.
Alfredo has nothing of wealth to offer Violetta. He only has his heart and true love for her. Violetta allows herself to be swept off her feet and they escape the watchful eye of Paris and retreat to the French countryside to truly experience their love for each other without restriction. Alfredo has a father, a father that is none too pleased that he shacked up with this kind of woman.
Unbeknownst to Alfredo, his father pays a visit to Violetta and guilts and shames her into leaving him. She does as she is asked and leaves Alfredo to go back to her prior Parisian life. We should also make mention that Violetta is sick with some non-specified illness.
Back in Paris, Violetta picks up where she left off like she never missed a beat. Still thinking of Alfredo, but accepts this as her life. Alfredo finds her and reaffirms his love for her. But, as operas go, it is too little too late. She dies in his arms as they speak of their future life together.
The Opera San Jose company always impresses with their ownership of these performances. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house at the final scene. La Traviata was performed with the grace, emotion, and talent of what you might expect from a larger city like Chicago or New York. Everyone from the conductor to the leads was magnificent.
“In Verdi’s masterpiece, we are swept away by the spark of love, the sense of duty, the desire for salvation and the overwhelming passion of two lovers torn apart by societal and familial demands,” said Director Shawna Lucey. “Our setting in the Belle Époque perfectly matches the sumptuousness of Verdi’s music as well as the extreme passion and pain of Violetta & Alfredo. ‘It is all champagne and tears – fresh perversity, fresh credulity, fresh passion, fresh pain,’ wrote Henry James of the play. All of these themes are magnified in the opera and we shall revel in them all.”
Joseph Marcheso, Opera San José’s Music Director and Principal Conductor, serves as conductor for La traviata. Shawna Lucey makes her Opera San José debut as Director of La traviata.
The hands-down star performances of the night go to Soprano Amanda Kingston, a member of the resident company, as Violetta and Malcolm MacKenzie, baritone, as Alfredo’s father Giogio Germont. Their performance during his visit, “Ah! Dite Alla Giovine” was so powerful, gasps were heard in the crowd. Both of these stars were also featured in Così fan tutte earlier this season, and somehow they were even better and stronger with this performance.
Special performance nod also to Tenor, Pene Pati, who made his company debut appearing as Alfredo.
La traviata is sung in Italian with English supertitles. Runtime is approximately three hours. Opera San José presents six performances of this opera, opening in San José’s California Theatre on April 14, 2018, closing April 29, 2018. The California Theatre is at 345 S. First Street in downtown San José. Just don’t be surprised to find your face wet with tears while fighting the urge to cry out loud.
Dates: Performances: April 14, 15m, 19, 22m, 27, 29m
Time: “m” indicates matinee at 3pm; all other performances are at 8pm
Location: California Theatre, 345 South 1st Street (between San Carlos and San Salvador), San José, CA
Visit the Opera San Jose website for tickets and for more information.
For those of you looking to grab a bite prior to the show, check out Mosaic. Mosaic is a lively downtown San Jose restaurant and bar featuring American and Asian fusion cuisine and signature cocktails. Let them know you have a time restriction and they’ll be sure to make sure you are out in time to see the curtain go up.