Marble City Opera: Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata
Thursday, Friday, Saturday-March 16, 17, 18 @ 7:30 PM
Despite a disastrous premiere, Giuseppe Verdi’s 1853 operatic version of the familiar “Lady of the Camellias” story, La Traviata, quickly became one of the most popular works in the repertoire in the U.S. as well as Europe. It retains that status today, listed by the statistics site Operabase.com as the most often performed opera worldwide, year-to-year.
The reasons? The score, of course, is eminently memorable, accessible, even tunefully hummable. Added to this, the plot, characters, and milieu of the original novel by Alexandre Dumas, fils, his successful adapted play, and Verdi’s opera, involved social issues contemporary to the time that still enjoy substantial dramatic relevance.
Although La Traviata has seen some notable productions that update the work’s mid-19th Century milieu to a modern era, there is still ample room for opera companies to move in a different direction. Marble City Opera has done just that, bringing Verdi’s masterpiece to the rooms of Knoxville’s Historic Westwood, the newly restored 1890s mansion on Kingston Pike that is now the home for Knox Heritage.
Since the opera is set within the residences of the lead character, Violetta Valéry, and her friend Flora, MCO’s staging will use the rooms of Westwood to immerse the audience in the story and a period feel. Five areas on the first floor of Westwood—the stairs and foyer, the Fresco Parlor, the West Parlor, the Painting Studio, and the Dining room—will serve the opera’s action. While the orchestra will remain fixed, the singers and audience will move throughout the rooms of the house. In the party scenes, the singers will engage the audience as if they are also party guests. In other moments, the singers will guide the audience to the next scene to watch as bystanders.
This production continues MCO’s practice of casting notable local singers and guest artists. In the role of Violetta is soprano Kathryn Frady, MCO’s artistic director. Violetta’s lover, Alfredo, will be sung by tenor Brandon Evans. Baritone Austin Kness will sing the role of Germont. Knoxville audiences will recognize Brandon Gibson (Doctor Grenvil), Daniel Berry (Baron Douphol), Alexandria Shiner (Annina), and Breyon Ewing (Gastone). In the role of Violetta’s friend, Flora, will be guest mezzo-soprano Megan Moore.
Director Matthew Haney is staging La Traviata at Westwood; the orchestra conductor will be Brian Holman.