Prelude and Finale to La Traviata

I enjoy going to the Opera whenever I can – it’s not something I can often afford, but I suppose that keeps it something cherished that always seems to thrill.  One particular show that has stuck in my memory more than others is La Traviata, Verdi’s tragic story of two lovers in 18th Century Paris.  This Saturday, March 6th, will mark the 157th anniversary of its very first and disastrous performance in Venice.  Thankfully Verdi didn’t give up on the show and today it is one of the most well-known and most performed operas throughout the world, with many other works, La Boheme, the film Moulin Rouge, for example, based on the story.  That being said, the opera itself is based on a book by Alexander Dumas, La dame aux Camélias.

The opening creeps in, so soft and gentle that most in the audience don’t realize the orchestra has started playing until a few seconds in.  It possesses a certain musical theme that isn’t as prevalent in other shows, which is perhaps why this one is so popular, you find yourself actually humming along walking out of the theater.

The ending, of course, is quite sad, but offers one of the greatest moments in opera.  Just as Alfredo returns to Violetta to reconcile, their world collapses.  Violetta is dying of tuberculosis and near the end, with only moments to live.  Suddenly, however, as Alfredo returns and they embrace she begins to feel a remarkable recovery, warming up and regaining her strength.  But it is only her body’s last gasp and in a tear-jerking twist she finally collapses in death into Alfredo’s arms as he looks on, stunned.

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

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Verdi’s Va Pensiero Sull’Ali Dorate from Nabucco

Certainly the most famous song from Verdi’s classic work about the fate of the Jews at the hands of the conquering King of Babylon, the wicked Nabucco.  It is distinguished from other opera classics because it is not an aria, but sung by the chorus.  This performance is from the Metropolitan Opera, in New York City in 2001 with James Levine Conducting.  Nabucco is not on the roster for the current season, but is rumored to return in the 2011 – 2012 season.  But don’t wait to go see a performance there – it’s a truly remarkable place.

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

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