La traviata | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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La traviata

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Verdi's La traviata is arguably the most achingly romantic opera ever written, a rapturous paean to pure love and a delirious farewell to the empty glitter of the Parisian demimonde. At the center of the tragedy is Violetta, a frail courtesan hoping for Mr. Right to come along. Known as "la dame aux camelias"--the title of the younger Dumas' book on which the opera is based--she indicates her availability by wearing camellias. Though she is coveted by men of power and wealth she is forever condemned to be a trophy mistress. Then, to the surprise of her cynical friends, she falls in love with Alfredo, a callow aristocrat who courts her with youthful ardor. His family intervenes, of course, setting into motion Violetta's ultimate gesture of self-sacrifice. This Verdi gem boasts a string of gorgeous heartwrenching arias and duets; just as vivid is its unflinching expose of the hypocrisy and decadence of the leisure class. June Anderson, the American-born bel canto marvel, sings in this new Lyric production. Director Frank Galati has promised a psychoanalytical and socially relevant approach. Desmond Heeley's sets are said to be lush and impressionistic. Tenor Giuseppe Sabbatini plays Alfredo and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, the young Siberian baritone with matinee-idol looks, appears as Germont, Alfredo's father. The only drawback may be Bruno Bartoletti, a conductor with a questionable grasp of dramatic subtlety. Saturday, 7 PM, and Wednesday, 7.30 PM, with additional performances through October 4, Lyric Opera at the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker; 332-2244.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Fabian Sygma, J. Henry Fair.

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