Verdi hip to pop culture

Sunday, March 7, 2004

Scandal. Gossip. Intervention. Jealousy. Death. No, it's not Hollywood, Washington, D.C., or an afterschool special. It's 18th-century Paris with a Verdi twist.

Dubbed "Road Warriors" by Opera News, Teatro Lirico D'Europa has completed more than 3,000 performances worldwide. Not surprisingly, this popular touring company proved itself worthy of its international reputation Friday night at the Lied Center when it performed Verdi's "La Traviata," a romantic tragedy based on the tale of two lovers: Violetta Valery and Alfredo Germont.

It would appear that Verdi invented the classic "Pretty Woman" scenario: Violetta, a courtesan, and Alfredo, a man from a respectable family, fall in love and become the talk of the town.

Of course, "La Traviata" is a classic, but it is much more complicated than that. Beautiful, young Violetta is dying of consumption, and she has less than a year to live. Alfredo's father, Giorgio, intervenes; he pleads with Violetta to leave Alfredo before it is too late to save the family name. Out of love, she consents and aligns herself with another man, Alfredo's rival, Baron Douphol. Alfredo threatens revenge against the baron. Intermission. The Baron is defeated. Alfredo leaves the country, and Violetta is left to die alone -- until Giorgio honors his conscience and informs Alfredo of Violetta's sacrifice. Then Alfredo rushes back just in time to catch the dying Violetta in his arms. The end.

The show was fantastic, despite some shaky violins in the overture and a dead spot to the right and left of middle-stage. All three lead roles were brilliantly cast and executed.