Revel in Opera's All-Consuming Passion this Summer!
Some of the most beautiful music for voice in the Western tradition was written for the female heroines of Italian tragic opera. Never mind that these women are usually dead of tuberculosis, murder, or suicide when the curtain closes. Each time they bring their un-politically-correct stories to an end with that final, fainting aria before collapsing onstage, they break our hearts - and we love them for it.
Two classics in the "woman must die" vein are the highlights of this summer's opera-going season in Vermont: Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata, performed by the Green Mountain Opera Festival in Barre, and Giacomo Puccini's La Bohème as presented by the Opera Company of Middlebury.
La Traviata - literally, "the woman who strayed" - takes place in Paris in 1850, just two years before it premiered in Venice, Italy. Violetta Valèry has "strayed" by becoming a courtesan - a rare position of prestige available to single women at the time, but one that meant ostracization from "good" society. To make matters worse, she has consumption, as tuberculosis was then known.
Based on the novel La Dame aux camélias by Alexander Dumas, the opera traces a six-month romance between beautiful Violetta and her high-society lover, Alfredo Germont. The relationship is doomed from the start, as the courtesan well knows and tries to make Alfredo understand. But love overrules reason - that is, until Germont senior steps in to break up the liaison. The scandal involving his son has endangered his daughter's chance to marry. Self-sacrificing Violetta agrees to give up her lover, but a frustrated Alfredo reacts by insulting her in her own salon. With unremitting remorse, he delivers his apology to her on her deathbed as she sings of looking down on Alfredo from heaven. The wayward woman, Verdi implies, has been redeemed through love.
Read the full article