Florida Grand Opera's 2023–24 Season Kicks Off With ‘LA TRAVIATA’
Florida Grand Opera (FGO)’s 82nd season opens in the glittering salons of 19th-century Paris, where the hottest party girl in town sips champagne and harbors a terrible secret. La traviata (The Fallen Woman), Giuseppe Verdi's most romantic and moving score, tells the story of the doomed romance between Violetta Valéry and Alfredo Germont, the scion of a wealthy provincial family. Verdi's frequent collaborator, Francesco Maria Piave, wrote the libretto based on Alexandre Dumas fils' novel-turned-play La dame aux camélias (The Lady of the Camellias), which in turn is loosely based on the romantic adventures of the author. The lady in question was Marie Duplessis, a well-known courtesan of the day, whose wealthy and influential lovers included diplomats, nobility, writers, businessmen, and the composer Franz Liszt. She died in 1847 from tuberculosis at just 23 years old.
Leonardo Capalbo and Ailyn Peréz in FGO's 2008 La traviata. Photo by Deborah Gray Mitchell.
Verdi began composing his masterpiece in 1851, immediately after seeing the play. The opera premiered at La Fenice in Venice on March 6, 1853. It was not an immediate success, due partly to the age and curvaceousness of the leading soprano, the poor singing of the male artists, and the censors’ insistence that the opera be set in the 18th century instead of Verdi's preference for a modern setting. Regardless, Verdi triumphed in the end. La traviata remains one of the most popular and frequently performed operas of all time.
Violetta Valéry is a renowned Parisian courtesan who downplays her ongoing battle with tuberculosis as she determinedly pursues a life filled with extravagant revelries. When young Alfredo Germont declares his love for her, however, she cannot resist and abandons her career in favor of quiet country domesticity. Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germont, interrupts the lovers’ idyll with demands that they separate for the sake of his young daughter. Alfredo’s association with a fallen woman tarnishes the family’s reputation. Violetta nobly agrees to the sacrifice but realizes that she must trick Alfredo into leaving her by pretending that she no longer loves him and returning to her old life. Hurt, humiliated, and incensed, Alfredo publicly denounces her, challenges her new protector to a duel, and is forced to flee the country after wounding the man. As Violetta lies on her deathbed, Alfredo and Germont return to reconcile with her at last, and she dies in Alfredo’s arms.
The opera is resplendent with Verdi's trademark memorable melodies, from Violetta’s sparkling “Sempre libera, to Germont’s pleading “Di Provenza,” to the gentle and heartbreaking love duet “Parigi o cara.” One of the most famous pieces is the first act Brindisi or drinking song, "Libiamo nei lieta calici." Mexican-American soprano Cecilia Violetta López returns to Florida Grand Opera in her signature role as Violetta. She was last seen as Rosalba in 2018's Florencia in el Amazonas. Opera News named the native Idahoan one of opera’s “25 Rising Stars” and USA Today acclaimed her as one of “Idaho’s Top Ten Most Influential Women of the Century.”
The proud daughter of immigrant farmworkers who came to the US to realize the American dream, López has performed Violetta with Minnesota Opera, Opera Colorado, Opera Tampa, Opera Idaho, Ash Lawn Opera, The Northern Lights Music Festival, Madison Opera, Pacific Symphony and Virginia Opera. Her repertoire includes Adina (The Elixir of Love), the title role of Manon, Nedda (I pagliacci), Maria (West Side Story), Marguerite (Faust), Mimi (La bohème) the Countess (The Marriage of Figaro), and many others. She made her critically acclaimed European début as Norina in Don Pasquale with Zomeropera in Belgium. López has also appeared with Opera Las Vegas, LoftOpera, Opera Southwest, Opera Saratoga, Prototype Opera Festival, Opera San Luis Obispo, Madison Opera, and many others.
Award-winning Belarusian tenor Pavel Patrov makes his American debut as Alfredo. He is the winner of the First Prize and the Don Placido Domingo Ferrer Prize of Zarzuela of Operalia 2018, The World Opera Competition, and finalist of the Belvedere and Queen Sonja International Music competitions. His busy international career includes recent appearances as Tamino (The Magic Flute) at Wiener Staatsoper, Opéra National de Paris and Dresden Semperoper, the Verdi Requiem with Orquesta Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias, and Lensky (Eugene Onegin) at Teatro Massimo di Palermo. Previous highlights include his Wiener Staatsoper debut as Nemorino (The Elixir of Love) and Tamino (The Magic Flute), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni) at Opéra National de Paris and Oper Graz the Duke (Rigoletto) for Opera Hong Kong and Bregenzer Festspiele, and Alfredo (La traviata) for Savonlinna Festival, among many others.
Baritone and former Florida Grand Opera Studio Artist Troy Cook last appeared at Florida Grand Opera as Enrico in 2017’s Lucia di Lammermoor. The Kentucky native returns in the role of Giorgio Germont. Often acclaimed for his vocal and physical elegance, Cook has graced the stages of some of the world’s greatest opera houses, including The Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, San Francisco Opera, La Monnaie (Brussels), and Opera Bilbao. He created the role of Father Palmer in Kevin Puts’ and Mark Campbell’s acclaimed Silent Night at Minnesota Opera and the role of John Cree in Puts and Campbell’s Elizabeth Cree at Opera Philadelphia.
Recent performances include his 4th different production as Marcello (La bohème) with Opera Philadelphia, his Virginia Opera debut as Major General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance, Germont with Inland Northwest Opera, and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Palm Beach Opera. Other frequently performed roles include Tonio (I pagliacci), Enrico (Lucia di Lammermoor), Rodrigo (Don Carlo), Valentin (Faust), and Ford (Falstaff), to name a few.
A mixture of guests and Studio Artists round out the cast. South Florida baritone José Vazquez appears as the Marquis D'Obigny. Second-year Studio Artist, tenor Joseph McBrayer, will sing the role of Gastone de Letorieres. The remaining roles will be taken by first-year Studio Artists, soprano Sara Kennedy (Annina), Taylor-Alexis DuPont (Flora Bervoix), Joseph Canuto Leon (Baron Douphol), and Keith Klein (Doctor Grenville). The roles of Giuseppe, the Messenger, and Flora’s Servant will be sung by Florida Grand Opera choristers, to be announced.
La traviata marks Ecuadoran stage director and composer Chía Patiño’s FGO debut while conductor Joe Illick, former Interim Artistic Director at FGO’s predecessor Greater Miami Opera, returns to the podium for the first time since 1993. Sets are by Peter Dean Beck, with costumes designed by Florida Grand Opera stalwart, the late Allen Charles Klein.
“We couldn’t be happier with this stellar international cast, all of whom are seasoned on the stage and particularly in these roles,” says Susan T. Danis, General Director and CEO. “We are excited to kick off our 82nd season with such a beautiful and popular piece, chosen especially for the tastes of our South Florida audiences. They love grand opera and grand singing, and this cast and production will deliver both.”
La traviata has been made possible with the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the Cultural Affairs Council, the Mayor, and the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners, as well as the Broward County Cultural Division, the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Janet Trager Salz Charitable Trust. Additional funding for this programming has been received from Funding Arts Network (FAN) and The Community Foundation of Broward has provided support for FGO's Youth Education programming, enabling the opera to offer youth tickets and transportation to La traviata through its HOPE (Having an Opera Performance Experience) initiative.
Pavel Petrov, Cecilia Violetta López, Troy Cook
La traviata plays November 11, 12, and 14 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, and November 30 and December 2 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Subscriptions and single tickets for the 2023–24 season are currently on sale at fgo.org or by calling 800.741.1010.
WHO: Florida Grand Opera WHAT: La traviata WHEN: November 11, 2023 – December 2, 2023 WHERE: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Broward Center for the Performing Arts WHY: Florida Grand Opera's 82nd Season opens with a brilliant cast of seasoned international stars and one of Giuseppe Verdi’s most beautiful and popular scores, a favorite of South Florida audiences.