Teatro Lirico D'Europa's "La Traviata" February 13, 2010
La Traviata Translates: Tragic Love at Cerritos
By Glen Creason
It might be appropriate that Teatro Lirico D’Europa staged the great Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata” on lover’s weekend at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. Like many well aimed cupid’s darts and valentine sentiments La Traviata starts with grand hope but ends in a heap of regrets and sorrow. While love may be divine and the bond between Violetta and Alfredo seems eternal, the soap opera-esque intrigues that keep them apart in this life end up making a grand statement of fidelity but then again somebody is dead at the final curtain. Based on the Alexandre Dumas novel and first performed in 1853 “La Traviata” or “the Fallen Woman” has been causing fans to dab at their eyes with hankies since California was four years old. Originally this opera was scandalous because it portrayed a courtesan in a sympathetic light but even in 2010 the story manages to place audiences firmly in Violetta’s corner after her misuse by men. Despite the agonizing d’amor the music and singing along with dazzling costumes make for a rewarding day at the old operatic heartbreak hotel.
This company has visited Cerritos several times before and the principals are all top drawer to match the memorable arias contained in this most popular work. On this night those singers who spend an inordinate amount of time performing were soprano Snejana Dramcheva as the tragic Violetta and tenor Igor Borko as the sadly misled Alfredo. Ms. Dramcheva was especially impressive in this monumentally demanding role that sees her singing throughout the two and a half hours of the unraveling of her undoing. Set in Paris and Provence but taking place in ballrooms and bedrooms La Traviata starts with the hopeful admonition “yes, life is made for pleasure!” As a matter of fact the first aria sung in Act 1 is a drinking song “Brindisi: Libiamo” followed by Alfredo’s song of adoration “Un di Felice” followed by Violetta’s hopeful “Ah fors’e lui” that wonders if he could be the man of her dreams.
In Act II the happy couple is cohabitating blissfully but in opera bliss is often obliterated, as is this state by the father of Alfredo who fears the breakup of his family because of this tryst. Baritone Peter Danailov was excellent in the thankless role of the father and indeed his “Dite alla giovine” is the persuader that moves Violetta to make the ultimate sacrifice for her love. While she pretends to leave him for her former lover she suffers terribly as heard in “Amami Alfredo” that demonstrated some of the soprano’s finest singing. Of course, there is a confrontation at a ball, recriminations, the ache of lost love, warnings of revenge and opera is opera. In the final scene the anguish of this parting has taken the consumptive Violetta to death’s door and even after Alfredo’s father has told his son the truth of Violetta’s parting with him they cannot save her at the sad end. Yet when the scales are made to fall from Alfredo’s eyes and he is finally reunited with his beloved Violetta and they sing “Parigi, o cara” there has not been a dry eye in the house for the last one hundred and fifty plus years.