1. ONE OF VERDI’S BEST-LOVED TOP OPERAS
Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) is one of the greatest Italian composers in the history of opera. Verdi was an opera composer above all else. He had the unique ability to capture characters, situations and relationships in his music, grabbing audiences by the throat. Verdi’s first international success came in 1842 with the opera Nabucco, which was followed by a highly productive period in which he composed three monster hits: Rigoletto (1852), Il trovatore (1853) and La traviata (1853). Verdi continued composing operas later in life as well, although at a less frantic pace. His later works include Aida (1871), Otello (1887) and Falstaff (1893), which was his swan song.
2. VERDI’S MOST CONTEMPORARY OPERA
Verdi’s La traviata (1853) is an opera that was contemporary for its time. The character of Violetta Valéry was heavily inspired by French courtesan Marie Duplessis, who had died just six years before. The recurring waltz rhythm is also a testament to the times. The waltz was an extremely popular dance in the mid-nineteenth century. Verdi had asked that the staging and the costumes be reflective of the times as well, because he wanted the audience to be able to clearly recognise themselves in the action on the stage. But the composer, who was no stranger to censorship, was unable to realise his vision. The censors forced him to move back the action – including the staging and costumes – to the eighteenth century. They considered the topic too risqué to have the action take place in the present age.
3. INCISIVE STAGE DIRECTION BY TATJANA GÜRBACA
Dutch National Opera first performed the incisive production by German stage director Tatjana Gürbaca in December 2021, in the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. In her take on La traviata, Violetta Valéry starts off as a carefree material girl who gets increasingly caught up in the capitalist system that will ultimately destroy her. There are no hoop-skirted gowns or wigs to be seen here. The mirror Gürbaca holds up to her audience in the spirit of Verdi’s intentions is reflective of today’s world, painting a poignant and – at times – exceptionally hard-hitting picture.
4. ANDREA BATTISTONI AND ROTTERDAM PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
Italian conductor Andrea Battistoni will return to take the baton to lead the orchestra, just like he did in December 2021. His interpretation met with critical acclaim two years ago: according to de Volkskrant, a Dutch national newspaper, Battistoni’s La traviata was evocative and heart-rendering, as well as being driven by a light-footed, pressing rhythm. What is different from 2021, however, is that Battistoni will be conducting the celebrated Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra this time, rather than the Dutch Philharmonic Orchestra.
5. ABSOLUTE TOP-CLASS VOCALISTS
The role of Violetta Valéry in La traviata demands an exceptionally versatile singer and actress. Not surprisingly, there are those who argue that the vocal role ideally calls for three different sopranos, one for each act. Fortunately, the role is in safe hands with Romanian soprano Adela Zaharia, both from a vocal and theatrical perspective. She performed with Dutch National Opera on a previous occasion to play a passionate Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. Ukrainian tenor Bogdan Volkov and Armenian tenor Liparit Avetisyan will alternate in playing the role of Alfredo Germont, Violetta’s lover. The third and last leading role will be filled by Verdi veteran George Petean, who will take on the part of Giorgio Germont.
- Dutch National Opera will be performing La traviata from 27 January through 18 February 2024 at Dutch National Opera & Ballet.