Get cultured with UA's Opera Theatre production "La traviata"
Starting next week on campus, the opera’s back in a big way. On Thursday evening at 7:30, and culminating in an afternoon performance on Sunday Nov. 18, the UA Opera Theatre will be performing Giuseppe Verdi’s “La traviata” as the UA School of Music’s only opera of this semester. Though opera can seem intimidating, this showing stands to change things.
“La traviata” is no run-of-the-mill opera, explained doctoral opera student Christy McClarty. “‘La traviata’ is the perfect opera for someone to see who’s going for the first time,” said McClarty, one of two sopranos who will be performing the starring role of Violetta Valery. “It’s uplifting, heartbreaking, a love story. There’s a reason it’s performed all over the country year after year.”
Arguably Verdi’s masterpiece, “La traviata” follows sickly courtesan Violetta as she meets and eventually falls in love with Alfredo Germont, a young man from a well-off and esteemed family. After Violetta and Alfredo take up together in Paris, Alfredo’s father convinces Violetta to leave his son as to not further damage Alfredo’s reputation. After an exhilarating confrontation, the final act tragically finds Alfredo arriving to take Violetta back just as she is ready to die, the two confessing their love for another as Violetta expires in her lover’s arms.
It may seem like heavy subject matter for a weekend, but McClarty made it clear that the production is much more than just its story.
“When you take this story and combine it with the lavish costuming, the 40-piece orchestra and voices soaring above it all without the aide of microphones, it’s really quite a force of nature,” said McClarty.
The singer/actress speaks highly of her character Violetta, whom she summarizes as “a bucket list character for any soprano” despite the challenges McClarty has faced in tackling the immensity of the vocal range the part calls for.
Perhaps more impressive than Verdi’s work itself is the amount of work the UA Opera Theatre is faced with, not only in putting on a production of that magnitude but also in marketing the opera to a college audience.
Guillermo Lopez, McClarty’s costar in the role of Alfredo, characterizes the public’s wariness as more of a misunderstanding than a reaction to actual opera performances. “I’ve found that the people who say ‘I don’t like the opera’ are the ones who just don’t know it or who have never been,” he said. “Those same people almost always come out smiling, ‘That was opera? That was great!’ It can be a very educational experience for some.”
Echoing McClarty’s comments about “La traviata’s” accessibility as an opera, Lopez noted the prowess of the orchestra.
“The music is very tonal, written with the kind of melodies and scales that really laid the groundwork for pop music,” he said.
Both stars make it emphatically clear that not speaking Italian is no excuse not to come, as the performance features English subtitles projected during its entirety. With a mixed cast of UA undergraduates and graduates, and a location within walking distance, consider giving the opera a try this coming week.
La traviata plays at Crowder Hall Nov. 15th, 16th, 17th at 7:30, Nov. 18th at 3 PM. $15 General admission, $10 Students.
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