'La Traviata', Verdi's Take on a Timeless Story, is Saturday's Met Radio Broadcast

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Sonya Yoncheva as Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata Sonya Yoncheva as Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata (Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera)

La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi is arguably one of the most performed operas in the history of the art form. In step with its wildly beloved reputation, the tragic tale has been selected as your 1 pm Met Opera Saturday Matinee Broadcast.

There are several angles with which one may approach Verdi’s Fallen Woman, and the timeless nature of its themes of loyalty, love and death are the subject of this week’s episode of He Sang, She Sang. In it, dramaturg Cori Ellison comments the archetypical nature of the character Violetta, whose qualities can be found in tales and that stretch from ancient Sanskrit writings to Sally Bowles to Julia Roberts’ portrayal of Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman.

This particular opera is also notable for its handling of societal expectations and gender roles. Violetta is an unmarriageable courtesan who defies the rules of the day to live out love with the Alfredo, the embodiment of “respectable” society. But Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germont, dissuades Violetta from a life with her son out of fear that her reputation would stain the family name. She complies, and Germont’s eventual realization that Violetta’s affection for Alfredo is genuine and pure makes the story all the more tragic.

La Traviata was also a challenging opera for its day. That a composer would create a work of art from the point of view of a woman — and a courtesan no less — ran counter to the unspoken rule that only those of nobility were to be shown as victims of tragedy. When the opera made its premier in 1853 critics found favor with it, but the audience did not think so highly of the production. After a round of revisions, Verdi premiered it again the following year — to overwhelming success.



Conductor: Nicola Luisotti

Violetta Valéry: Sonya Yoncheva

Alfredo Germont: Michael Fabiano

Giorgio Germont: Thomas Hampson

Comments [14]

Krysha from New Jersey

Beautiful - loved Sonya Yoncheva's voice, expression and rendition. First time to experience her performance. Will seek out more. Live broadcast almost as good as live - sometimes better because so close up.

Staging and costumes though??? Were we at the bottom of a corrugated cement hole? Competing with "Carnival of Souls" or "Rocky Horror Picture Show"? Definitely detracted from emotional impact of this production.

Mar. 21 2017 05:13 PM
Mark Desiderio from Teaneck, NJ

I've been listening to opera from the cradle. My father was a tenor in the old Philadelphia Lyric Opera chorus--as well as, for a while, the company physician. My brothers and I would sometimes go to rehearsals with him. I met Beverly Sills in the green room. My brothers were yelled at by Anton Guardagno for horsing around during a run-through. I watched a young Pavarotti (red scarf draped loosely about his throat) listening along with us from a seat in the near empty auditorium. My mom made a lasagna for Joan Sutherland. My childhood home was filled with music, boozy dinners where dad's pals (butcher, doctor, cheese guy, podiatrist, clerk, stone mason--amateur singers all) would take turns belting out arias and stay up all night blasting Andrea Chenier, Madama Butterfly, Traviata, and Otello on the console stereo. Not a shred of New York snobbery in that upbringing. But a lot of Arkansas defensiveness in that undeserved and insulting comment from Jim.

Mar. 12 2017 12:31 PM
CastaDiva from New York, NY

Wonderful Fabbiano. And an engaging Yoncheva. Her voice, esp. her middle register, is very reminiscent of Gheorghiu's.

I have to agree with some of the comments re. the production. I enjoyed listening to the fine singing this afternoon more than I did the live performance when it opened several seasons ago, as the sets and direction truly bothered me.

Mar. 11 2017 07:26 PM
Peter OMalley from Oakland, New Jersey

Just to clarify: some of us were criticizing the production, which is silly and pretentious, and not the singing. At least (so far, anyway, till the money runs out) you are able to hear the broadcasts whether in New York or not.

Mar. 11 2017 05:03 PM
Michael from Hudson Valley

@ Jim Newsom: I call them armchair critics and don't let them bother me. It's too bad hate enters your equation.
Yes South Arkansas is culturally deprived and NYC is not. You should realize that without cultural deprivation, people form opinions, sometimes strong. You can't have it both ways. Escape cd, you get opinions.

Mar. 11 2017 04:48 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

I can be a music critic. Been reading scores since I was 12 years old.
Would pick up the score at my library and read along. Yes, I am that old.
Do not know if Jim's comments were meant for me.
We have the right to criticize or life would have no meaning.
We do not have to love every opera. Not all operas deserve that kind of love.

Mar. 11 2017 04:15 PM
Madison from Manhattan

Hi Jim from Ashdown.Ark.,

I am certainly not a music critic but just an opera lover who's been going to the Met since 1959,as well as having attended operas in Vienna,Berlin, Paris, Chicago and San Francisco and have numerous friends who are singers.Please send me the brochure of the coming opera season of the Ashdown,Arkansas Lyric Opera Co. Maybe,I'll fly down to attend a few.

Mar. 11 2017 04:07 PM
Jim Newsom from Ashdown, AR

Sit down and shut up and enjoy the show. What makes any of you music critics anyway -- just because you have NYC-area addresses? When you live in a culturally deprived area such as South Arkansas, you appreciate anything you can get. I hate it that people can spout off about things about which they are obviously ill-informed.

Mar. 11 2017 03:31 PM
Jim from Ashdown,AR

Sit down and shut up and enjoy the show without espousing pseudo-intellectual comments. What makes any of you qualified to be a music critic anyway?

Mar. 11 2017 03:25 PM
Mark Desiderio from Teaneck, NJ

I need a proofreader, but you get my drift.

Mar. 11 2017 03:11 PM
Mark Desiderio from Teaneck, NJ

A ridiculous, sophomoric production. I'm happy to see I'm not the only one who feels this way. Now, can someone tell me what's going on with the singers today? The timing among the three principles is so haphazard I thoughthink at one point the prompter might be drunk. Is the prompter drunk? Violetta has a beautiful voice but can't seem to control her breathing and that Sempre Libre was plodding, lifeless. Very beautiful quality, though. Poor Thomas Hampson is now out of his depth. Ragged, pained singing. Anyway, what a great opera it is.

Mar. 11 2017 02:53 PM
Madison from Manhattan

Yes, Peter O'Malley, it's a terribly silly production. When I saw it for the first time,I thought the old man was Verdi or maybe Charlton Heston with a beard and kept wondering what he was doing there. If he represents death, why not put him in a black robe with a scythe and have him walk around the stage ? As for the clock, I hope it doesn't set a trend,e.g.Boheme will need one clock, Tosca will need 3 clocks and Butterfly one,preferably a Seiko set to Japan Standard time.This production looks like a Monet or Renoir would look if de-constructed and re-painted as a Mondrian.
The singing,however,sounds wonderful!So far,the best I've ever heard from Fabiano.

Mar. 11 2017 02:06 PM
Peter OMalley from Oakland, New Jersey

I'm glad I'm just listening and not watching this silly, pretentious production. Yes, time passes in Violetta's as in everyone's life, so do we need the clock? And the red dress? Give her some costume changes, please. And how did the Evil Genius, Dr. Miracle or whoever, manage to wander in from "Les Contes d'Hoffmann"?

Mar. 11 2017 01:17 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

CBC: Hope you are well. Freddo terribile qui.
This opera is about an expensive kept woman who screams a lot
in Italian. The usual heart of gold. The part of Papa Germont can be sung by Il Piu Fesso Baritono, my father would remark in Neapolitan dialect.
I have a dvd e with Angela Ghierogiu, and she winds up as a bag lady.
Papa Germont is Nucci and I feel sorry for him singing this really
bland thankless role.

Mar. 11 2017 11:12 AM

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