La Traviata

Up until recent generations, what was a girl to do if she wanted to be her own boss, free from the legal and emotional tyranny of a husband? Well, if you were pretty and witty and bright, the path of least resistance was that of the courtesan or geisha. But despite the perceived glamour of this way of life, the "official" public position toward this profession has always been one of hypocritical disapproval.

So, it seemed a bit of a leap in 1852 for Giuseppe Verdi to write an opera about a tubercular woman of questionable reputation. Yet Verdi's venture followed on the heels of La dame aux camèlia, a very successful novel and play by Alexandre Dumas fils based on his relationship with the fair courtesan, Marie Duplessis. Perhaps even more compelling for Verdi was his long-term affair with Giuseppina Strepponi, who later became his second wife.

Photo of Elizabeth Futral as Violetta
Elizabeth Futral as Violetta
Photo: P. Switzer
Nevertheless, making Violetta Valery the heroine of La Traviata is a bold social statement that not only challenged the double-standards of Verdi's day, but is just as challenging to the moral pretensions of our own society.

Following last week's wildly popular cutting-edge production of The Barber of Seville, Opera Colorado's artistic, and in this case, stage director James Robinson wisely chose a traditional approach to this musical and dramatic masterpiece.

Photo of Scott Hendricks as Giorgio Germont
Scott Hendricks as
Giorgio Germont
Photo: P. Switzer
Treating Boettcher Concert Hall's three-quarters thrust arrangement as if it were a proscenium, Bruno Schwengl's imposing backdrops and evocative settings provide an epic canvas for an evening of stirring vocals and solid acting.

If only for her heavenly soprano, Elizabeth Futral would be worth many times the ticket price, but added to her heart-wrenching dramatics, we were left awed and wishing that we could attend the next three performances.

Photo of Eric Cutler as Alfredo
Eric Cutler as Alfredo
Photo: P. Switzer
But the evening's fireworks did not stop there. Eric Cutler, as Alfredo Germont, Violetta's lover, showed much passion, tugging at us with his pleasing Italian phrasing and expressive tenor. Scott Hendricks, as Giogio Germont, thrilled us with his booming baritone, and made such a convincing show of Giorgio's change of heart, he left no doubt as to his sincerity—no mean feat considering the selfish motives with which he begins.

Photo of Elizabeth Futral as Violetta
Elizabeth Futral as Violetta
Photo: P. Switzer
The Colorado Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Steven White, delivers the beauty and full range of Verdi's score, and the Opera Colorado Chorus adds depth and gravity at every turn.

Opera Colorado's powerful rendition of La Traviata has two remaining performances—Friday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 2:00 pm. 303-893-4100.

Bob Bows


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