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LU opera to present ‘La Traviata,’ May 3-4

Jason Choi, left, and Summin Cha, right, practice for their upcoming opera show, “La Traviata” in the Rothwell  Recital Hall, Thursday. UP photo by Noah Dawlearn
Jason Choi, left, and Summin Cha, right, practice for their upcoming opera show, “La Traviata” in the Rothwell Recital Hall, Thursday. UP photo by Noah Dawlearn

Lamar Opera Theatre will present one of opera’s greatest romances, “La Traviata,” May 3-4 at 7:30 p.m. in the Rothwell Recital Hall. All performances are free and open to the public.

“‘La Traviata’ means ‘the fallen woman’ or ‘the one who goes astray,’ and refers to the main character, Vioaletta Valéry,” Serdar Ilban, associate professor of voice and opera, said in an email interview. “The plot of the opera revolves around her love affair with Alfredo Germont, the sacrifice she makes for true love, and ultimately, her death.”

The opera was composed by Giuseppe Verdi to a libretto by Francesco Maria Piave,and premiered in 1853 at La Teatro Fenice in Venice, Italy.

“Based upon the 1852 play by Alexandre Dumas fils, ‘La Dame aux camélias,’ the opera marked a large step forward for Verdi in his quest to express dramatic ideas in music,” Ilban said.

“La Traviata” is the most ambitious project the department have taken on so far, Ilban said.

“Not only it is musically and vocally challenging, but it is a drama that has many facets, as well as offering easily recognized, beautiful melodies and a history that inspired many adaptations on the big screen and on stage,” he said. “The choice is always based on the idea of providing valuable learning and performing experiences for our students, and offering musically and dramatically engaging productions for our audience.”

Ilban said the music itself, and its immediate emotional delivery, enhances the production.

“The entire show is one musical piece with no spoken dialogue,” he said. “The reason the music is important, is because of Verdi’s masterful portrayal of each character’s traits and circumstances within the vocal lines and the orchestration.”

The main character, Violetta Valéry, sets this production apart from others, Ilban said.

“In no other Verdi operas, or any other opera by any other composer for that matter, the heroine carries the weight of the entire world so squarely on her shoulders as in ‘La Traviata,’” he said. “That is unique enough on its own.”

The characters are modernized for today’s taste making them more relatable to the audience, Ilban said.

“Love and sacrifice are universal themes,” he said. “Anyone who has seen the movie ‘Pretty Woman’ will see that the famed Hollywood romantic comedy has nuances based on ‘La Traviata.’”

Ilban said the cast of students showcase a level of quality that is satisfyingly rewarding.

“We face challenges with each and every production, from juggling rehearsal schedules to budgetary restrictions, the flu that takes hostage of half of our cast, to time management — each production comes with its built in, and sometimes impromptu challenges,” he said. “You deal with them as they present themselves, and I am lucky to have an extremely dedicated and eager-to-learn cast.”

The goal is to have the audience enjoy the beauty of the musical pieces, Ilban said.

“I hope people are humming some of the most beautiful tunes when they leave the recital hall, and are moved by the story’s pulse and honesty,” he said.

Ilban said every performance presents a new lesson to be learned for the cast and crew.

“Each production teaches me, as the director, if I am pushing my students too far, challenging our audience enough or if we need to explore new avenues in presenting future works at the Lamar Opera Theatre,” he said. “Most importantly, I want the students to be proud of the work they put together.”

For more information, call 880-7181 or email serdar.

Category: Features