• Five Things to Know about La Traviata

    By COC Staff

    An unforgettable classic from one of opera’s most beloved composers, Verdi’s La Traviata returns to the COC stage this April. Infused with the extravagance of 1850s Paris, director Arin Arbus’ production features extraordinary sets and costumes, show-stopping arias, and riveting drama—all realized by some of the world’s finest opera artists. Read on to learn more!

    A spectacular feast for the eyes

    Arbus’ La Traviata offers a vision of Parisian opulence, overflowing with vibrant colour, grand sets, and dazzling costumes reminiscent of Moulin Rouge! Reflecting on the show’s inspired visuals, costume designer Cait O’Connor notes, “we went way over-the-top Baroque all through the lens of 1860;” saturated swaths of colour wash over the many impressive gowns, striking to behold on both page and stage. “I think the ball gowns are amazing,” says O’Connor, adding, “they took an incredible amount of work, an incredible amount of fabric, and an incredible amount of trim… it’s got to be upwards of 1600 yards.” The scale of artistry and craftsmanship involved supports the big emotional storytelling of Verdi’s opera, bringing a world of lavish grandeur to life before your eyes, in sweeping shapes and colours.

    Photo: Michael Cooper

    Incomparable arias, choruses, and melodies 

    Featuring some of Verdi’s most-recognizable music, La Traviata alternates between bigger-than-life party scenes and intimate, dramatic moments of unparalleled emotional depth and humanity. One of the most famous pieces in Traviata combines the full artistic forces of an opera company to glorious effect: orchestra, chorus, and soloists in the iconic drinking song “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici,” led by the show’s stars Violetta and Alfredo. The piece is immediately recognizable from its countless film and television appearances—including stops in Academy Award Best Picture winners The Godfather and The Lost Weekend. Hearing this toast performed by our artistic community gathered under the baton of Music Director Johannes Debus, supported by Price Family Chorus Master Sandra Horst and concertmaster Marie Bérard, is a fitting celebration of our first in-person performances in more than two years! 

    Photo: Michael Cooper

    A time and place for extravagance

    The story of Traviata is as much about its characters as its setting. 1850s Paris was a booming city, growing in both size and influence to become a leading European financial and cultural center of the emerging, modern world. As the city’s power grew, so too did the authority of the powerful, affluent elite. Against that background, Verdi focused his creative energy, as Arbus notes, on “a woman struggling to survive in a moneyed, stratified patriarchy.” Verdi interrogates the very structure of this society through the dramatic fulcrum of the opera: the tragic story of young lovers from opposite walks of life. While the social dynamics of the piece are firmly anchored in a specific time and place, their resonance is universal, says Arbus: “the opera exists in its own time, but speaks to us of our time, too.”

    Photo: Michael Cooper

    Iconic roles played by established and emerging opera stars

    Singing the role of the heroine Violetta, Egyptian-born soprano Amina Edris is one of the most exciting up-and-coming soprano voices on the international stage. Opposite Edris, American tenor Matthew Polenzani is a seasoned Alfredo, having taken recent turns in the role at the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro Real de Madrid, and Opernhaus Zürich. Completing the cast are some familiar faces from the COC Ensemble Studio —with crowd favourites Matthew Cairns, Vartan Gabrielian, Jamie Groote, Midori Marsh, and Jonah Spungin all appearing in this production.

    Photo: Michael Cooper

    A timeless tale of tragic love

    Of course, the driving force behind this iconic work is its heartbreaking story. The most captivating courtesan in all of Paris, Violetta Valéry falls for the handsome gentleman Alfredo Germont, and dares to embrace a different type of life and love. Alfredo’s father, however, intervenes and secretly convinces Violetta to break off the love affair. Cut off from her chance at happiness and emotionally shattered, Violetta’s heartbreaking trajectory gives us one of opera’s most compelling heroines, full of compassion and tender humanity. 

    Don’t miss our triumphant return to the stage! Tickets for La Traviata, as well as our other 21/22 operas, are now on sale.

    Posted in A Season Like No Other


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