As a student at the Milan Conservatory, Verdi was told that he had no special musical talent. He sure showed them! Verdi was one of the most successful Italian composers of all time, and went on to write 30 different operas! Some of the most famous include: Rigoletto, Otello, Macbeth, Don Carlos, Falstaff, and of course, La Traviata.
This “talentless” young man also became something of a national hero during the unification of Italy. In fact, the phrase “Viva Verdi” was seen written on walls throughout Milan in the late 1850s and early 1860s, not only wishing a long and prosperous life to the beloved composer, but also serving as a secret vow that the King of Piedmont would be successful in his bid to unify Italy: Viva Vittorio Emanuele Re D’Italia (long live Vittorio Emanuele King of Italy).
La Traviata’s heroine, Violetta, goes on a significant emotional journey throughout the opera. And Verdi’s score is right there with her! In fact some opera lovers joke that you really need three DIFFERENT sopranos to do Violetta’s music justice: a coloratura soprano, a lyric soprano, and a dramatic soprano.
In the first act Violetta’s music sparkles like a glass of champagne: high, brilliant, fast moving and virtuosic. Despite her illness, Violetta focusses on her freedom and the pleasures of life in Paris’ demi-monde. At the start of Act II, however, her music takes on a warmer and more lyrical aspect. Violetta is living with her true love, Alfredo, and her music mirrors her joy, peace and contentment. As the opera progresses Violetta’s music becomes more dramatic, reflecting her agony at leaving Alfredo and her despair at how he treats her at Flora’s party. As she and Alfredo are reunited at the end of the opera, Violetta music returns to the lyrical beauty of Act II, before she faces the ultimate tragedy—succumbing to her illness and passing away.
So how does our Violetta, Elizabeth Caballero, take on this “triple duty” with grace, style, beauty and ease? Join us Feb. 20, 22 or 25 to find out!
Our resident opera expert has come up with a series of “Triviatas” to help you prepare for seeing Verdi’s “La Traviata" with Pacific Symphony Feb. 20, 22 or 25 at the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa.
What do Julia Roberts and Giuseppe Verdi have in common? The 1990 hit movie, Pretty Woman, shares a number of dramatic themes with Verdi’s masterpiece and features a number of musical excerpts from the opera. Did you know…?
1) Both works star a “fallen woman” who finds redemption through love
2) In the movie, Roberts’ Vivian is taken to a performance of La Traviata by Richard Gere’s Edward. She is moved to tears by the performance and the scene serves a turning point in her relationship with Edward
3) Vivian hears ‘Dammi tu forza, o cielo!’ from Act II when she is at the opera, and the excerpt reoccurs a number of times during the second half of the movie, underscoring key dramatic moments
4) The original script of Pretty Women was not quite the romantic comedy that we all know. It concluded with Edward throwing Vivian out of his car and throwing three thousand dollars in cash at her, mirroring the scene in Act III where Alfredo throws money at the devastated Violetta in front of the guests at Flora’s party