In a fitting capstone to Virginia Opera’s 40th anniversary season, the Virginia Opera, in conjunction with Des Moines Metro Opera, presents a thrilling production of Verdi’s masterpiece La Traviata. Playing through today – March 22, 2015 at 2 PM, at the George Mason University Center for the Arts, this production is not to be missed, primarily for the thrilling performances of Cecilia Violetta Lopez as Violetta, and Rolando Sanz as Alfredo Germont.
La Traviata tells the story of the courtesan Violetta and her tragic, tumultuous relationship with the nobleman Alfredo, as she is dying from consumption. Set in Paris in the 1850s, the opera is brought alive with elaborate sets that fill the stage, depicting balls and even a country cottage, courtesy of Set Designer Robert Little. Complementing the sets was Lighting Designer Bradley King’s expressive lighting: the scenes when Alfredo and Violetta are happier are lit brighter and warmer, while such scenes as the opening ball with Violetta and her socialite friends, are lit much more sterilely, underscoring Violetta’s disconnect from those people and their hollow way of life.
The ornate, beautiful costumes, as well as the intricate wigs (Wig and Makeup Designer James P. McGough), also really helped set the scenes and draw the audience in. The contrast between the ostentation of the wigs and costumes in the first acts made the simplicity of the third act even starker, helping to convince the audience that Violetta truly was wasting away and dying.
I adored Cecilia Violetta Lope performance as Violetta. Her strong, intense voice and her soaring high notes perfectly expressed the range of Violetta’s emotions, from her anguish in the separation from her lover to the joy of being reunited. The vocal pyrotechnics she displayed in her arias at the end of Act I, Ah fors’e lui and Sempre libera, were breathtaking, as she leaped from low to high notes and trills and all sorts in between. Yet at no time was the sincerity and integrity of the character sacrificed to vocal prowess: Lopez’s powerful acting and her sheer charisma and stage presence made it so that the audience felt truly connected to Violetta and her journey.
The rest of the cast also sang beautifully, exhibiting great enthusiasm and strong, clear singing. Rolando Sanz as Violetta’s lover Alfredo Germont was superb and his thrilling tenor voice filled the auditorium during the rendition of Libiamo ne’ lieti calici.
Other fine vocals were displayed by Malcolm MacKenzie (Georgio Germont, Alfredo’s father), Courtney Miller (Flora Bervoix), and Andre Chiang, as Baron Douphol.
The Richmond Symphony under the direction of Andrew Bisantz played the score so beautifully. Their rendering of Verdi’s music expressive, complementing the singers in perfect harmony. It is always a delight to hear these grand operas performed by a skilled, full orchestra. Such complementation was at fine form in the famous drinking song from Act 1, Libiamo ne’ lieti calici. Many in the audience were dancing in their seats, along with the actors on stage!
While La Traviata is certainly a familiar opera for most, the excellence of this production, especially the outstanding Cecilia Violetta Lopez as Violetta, and Rolando Sanz as Georgio Germont, makes it a perfect choice to close out the 40th anniversary season of Virginia Opera.
Running Time: Three hours, including one-15 minute intermission.
La Traviata plays today, March 22, 2015 at 2 PM at Virginia Opera, performing at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts – 4400 University Drive, in Fairfax, VA. Purchase tickets for today’s performance at the box office, or call (703) 993-2787.
For more information about the Virginia Opera Company and to purchase future tickets, visit their website.