Concert: 26th and 27th
Power Center For The Performing Arts Ann Arbor, Michigan
In Violetta, Verdi created the ultimate musical and dramatic tour-de-force for the soprano. The other principal characters are also deftly drawn: Alfredo, a romantic, impetuous youth whose sincere devotion touches the heart of the worldly Violetta; and Giorgio Germont, the wise patriarch whose strict sense of honor is tempered with deep compassion.
Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) was Italy's supreme operatic composer, whose dramatic, lyric, and tragic stage music has made him a perennial favorite of opera enthusiasts. During his renowned 'middle period,' he produced three of his most successful operas: Rigoletto (1851), a strikingly moving drama and his first undisputed masterpiece; two years later, Trovatore (The Troubadour), which hearkened back to the straightforward accompaniments and visceral dramatics of such works as Nabucco; and La Traviata (The Fallen Woman). It may come as a surprise that La Traviata scandalized audiences at its premiere in 1853; however, the initial furor over the depiction of a woman of dubious virtue as a sympathetic character soon died down, and the opera is now recognized as one of the supreme achievements of the genre.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
(in order of vocal appearance)
Violetta Valery..................................................Donna Zapola (Sat.)
Brenda Harris (Sun.)
Flora Bervoix.................................................... Donna Stephenson
Marchese D'Obigny................................................. Mark Moliterno
Baron Douphol........................................................ James Wood
Doctor Grenvil................................................. Stephan Kirchgraber
Gastone de Letorieres .................................................. Mark Calkins
Alfredo Germont................................................. Paul Hartfield (Sat.)
Robert Brubaker (Sun.)
Annina........................................................... Barbara Rearick
Giuseppe............................................................. Mark Tobias
Giorgio Germont .....................................................Ron Peo (Sat.)
Edward Huls (Sun.)
Messenger......................................................... Eric McCluskey
Party guests............................ Carol Andrews, Laura Beyer, Kimberly Cornell,
Diane Fox, Cynthia Madison, Eric McCluskey,
Michael Mendelsohn, Jack Scott Montgomery,
Carolyn Paulus, Kathleen Sullivan, Mark Tobias
Time: 1850 Place: Paris and vicinity
Act I: A salon in Violetta's house, Paris
Intermission Act II: Violetta's country house, three months later
Intermission Act III: Flora's house, later that same day
Intermission Act IV: Violetta's bedroom, months later
Act I: A salon in Violetta's house, Paris
The courtesan, Violetta Valery, attended by her current patron, Baron Douphol, enter?tains her friends at a party celebrating her recovery from an illness. Gastone enters with Alfredo Germont, one of Violetta's ardent admirers, who was very concerned about her while she was ill. She invites Alfredo to entertain the company, and he sings the famous 'brindisi' (drinking song), Libiamo ne' lieti calici (Drink from the joyful glasses). Violetta then directs everyone into the ballroom, but overcome by weakness, remains behind. Her reverie, however, is broken by Alfredo; worried about her health, he expresses his concern in his aria, Un di,felice, eterea (One happy, heavenly day). Although she jokes about it, Violetta is deeply affected by his sincerity, and gives him a camelia, telling him to return with it when it begins to wither.
After her guests depart, Violetta muses on Alfredo's passionate devotion; touched and confused by a love for which she had given up hope, she sings Ahjors'e lui (Perhaps it is he). Disquieted, she tries to put Alfredo out of her mind in the well-known Sempre libera (Forever free), defiantly confirming that hers is a life devoted to pleasure. The sound of Alfredo's voice sernading her from outside, however, breaks down her resistance.
Act II: Violetta's country house, three months later
Violetta has left the Baron and is living with Alfredo in a country house outside of Paris. In his aria, De' miei bollenli spiriti (O my ardent spirits), Alfredo expresses his happiness. The maid, Annina, enters explaining that she was in Paris selling off Violetta's valuables. Alfredo, shocked to discover their dire financial situation, promises to go immediately to buy back the posses?sions and pay off their debts. After his departure, Violetta enters, and Annina tells her that Alfredo has left for Paris. Another servant, Giuseppe, gives his mistress a letter. Violetta tells them that she expects a visitor on business, opens the invitation to Flora's party, and tosses it aside.
Giuseppe returns to announce a visitor; expecting her business appointment, Violetta is surprised to meet Alfredo's father, Giorgio Germont, who accuses her of leading his son to financial ruin. He is touched, however, by her dignity when she explains that her money has paid for the months in the country and shows him a receipt for possessions that she sold. In an extended duet, Pura siccome un angelo (Pure as an angel), Germont asks her to end the affair with his son, since the liaison has jeopardized the marriage prospects of his daughter. Revealing that she is dangerously ill, Violetta begs him to reconsider, but Germont, certain that she could find another lover, theorizes that her feelings for Alfredo cannot last, and begs her to forswear the relationship for the sake of his family's reputation. Choked with anguish, Violetta agrees, hoping that such a sacrifice will atone for her sinful life. When she instructs Germont to inform his daughter of this noble gesture in Dite allagiovine (Tell the girl), he realizes the depth of her feelings, but nonetheless, insists that she give up Alfredo. Knowing her lover will not willingly end the relationship, Violetta decides to abandon him, but begs his father to make certain that, after her death, Alfredo knows the truth. Overcome with emotion, Germont tacitly assents and then departs.
Violetta calls Annina to take a note to the Baron, saying she is returing to him, and then she sits down to compose a letter to Alfredo, only to be interrupted by his arrival. He knows that his father is in the area and is anxious for him to meet her. Breaking into tears, Violetta passionately implores Amami, Alfredo (Love me, Alfredo), then rushes from the house, much to Alfredo's amazement. Giuseppe comes in to report that Violetta has just driven away to Paris, as Alfredo receives a letter from a messenger. As he opens it and reads Violetta's parting words, his father enters to comfort him. In his aria, Di Provenza il mar (The sea of Provence), the elder Germont urges Alfredo to return to his native city and family, but Alfredo is determined to find Violetta. Noticing the invitation to Flora's party, he rushes back to Paris.
Act III: Flora's house, later that same day
Flora's party is in full swing. Her paramour, the Marchese D'Obigny, surprises the guests with the news that Alfredo and Violetta have ended their affair; she will be attending the party with Baron Douphol. Alfredo, entering nonchalantly, joins in the gambling, professing to know nothing of Violetta, who, shortly thereafter, arrives with the Baron. Both are surprised and upset to see Alfredo, who gambles boisterously, announcing that he will use his winnings to live in the country with the woman who has recently deserted him. The Baron angrily asks to join the card game as Violetta looks on, horrified. Alfredo continues to win, but the game is interrupted by a servant who announces dinner.
Remaining behind, Violetta warns Alfredo to leave before the Baron challenges him to a duel. Angrily, Alfredo demands that Violetta return to the country with him, but she swears that she has left him forever. She confirms that she loves the Baron, and furious, Alfredo calls the guests together to reveal that Violetta spent all her money so that they could live together. Hurling his winnings at the courtesan's feet, he asks everyone to witness that he is paying her back. As Violetta faints into the arms of Flora, the appalled company orders Alfredo to leave. Giorgio Germont enters and condemns his son's shameful behavior, and the young man is filled with remorse. Violetta revives, and, while the others try to console her, declares her love for Alfredo, who prepares to leave the party. Before he can do so, however, the Baron challenges him to a duel.
Act IV: Violetta's bedroom, months later
In her nearly bare bedroom, the dying Violetta lies asleep; nearby, Annina also dozes. Doctor Grenvil arrives, and Violetta tells him that since a priest has heard her confession, she feels more comfortable. Although the doctor assures the woman of her recovery, he whispers to Annina that Violetta's consumption will kill her by evening. Annina tells her mistress that the noises outside are revelers of Carnival time, and Violetta instructs her to give half of their remaining money to the poor. She sends Annina out for the mail, and, alone, takes a tattered letter from her dressing gown.
The letter, from Giorgio Germont, explains that he has told Alfredo about her sacrifice, and his son is hurrying back to beg forgiveness. Alfredo, who had to leave Paris after he wounded Baron Douphol in their duel, is able to return now that the Baron has recovered. Violetta despairs that it is too late to recapture their former happiness, since she is dying. She sings a painfully sad aria, Addio del passato bei sogni ridenti (Farewell, sweet happy dreams of the past), and begs God for absolution.
Annina returns with news of Alfredo's arrival, just as he bursts in. Cradling the sickly Violetta in his arms, he begins a short duet promising a new life for them, Parigi, o cara (Paris, oh darling). Deliriously happy, Violetta attempts to rise, but is too weak. As Alfredo sends Annina for the doctor, Violetta rails against fate that will let her die so close to happiness. The maid returns with the doctor and the elder Germont, who is overwhelmed with remorse when he realizes the severity of Violetta's illness.
With her last bit of strength, Violetta picks up a locket with her portrait; giving it to Alfredo, she urges him to marry one day. He breaks down, unable to bear the thought of life without Violetta. Suddenly, however, the invalid feels strength flowing back into her body; she rises as if fully recovered, but a minute later, falls lifeless to the floor as the others look on in horror.
About the Artists
The New York City Opera National Company is now on its ninth and most extensive tour. Founded by Beverly Sills in 1979 as the touring arm of the New York City Opera, the National Company continues to provide talented young American artists with valuable performing experi?ence, with director Sills supervising each step in the artistic process. A National Company tour is also the ideal environment for veteran singers who wish to develop a new role, thus providing audiences the opportunity to see and hear a combination of seasoned performers and the brightest of the up-and-coming young stars.
This season's eight-week tour covers twenty-two states stretching from Maine to Florida and as far west as Kansas, with the company's brand-new production of La Traviata. As in previous years, the company uses its much-praised English supertitles while the singers preserve the integrity of the original-language libretto.
In Ann Arbor, the National Company has performed Rigoletto (1985), Madama Butterfly (1987), and The Barber of Seville (1988).
Saturday Evening Soloists
Donna Zapola (Violetta) joins the New York City Opera National Company for the first time in this production of La Traviata. In 1986, the native of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, portrayed the Contessa di Folleville in the acclaimed production of Viaggio a Reims at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis and returned to St. Louis for performances as Clorinda in La Cenerentola. She has also appeared as Fiordiligi in Cost fan tutte for Western Opera Theater and as Constanze in The Abduction from the Seraglio with the Bronx Opera. Last season she made her A very Fisher Hall debut in Janacek's Danube with the St. Louis Symphony.
Paul Hartfield (Alfredo) returns to the National Company after appearing as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. The texas-born tenor made his New York City Opera debut in the 1988 season as Rodolfo in La Boheme and portrayed the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto. His credits also include Leicester in Maria Stuarda with the Hong Kong Opera, the title role of Faust with the Tulsa Opera, and Alfred in Die Fledermaus with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Most recently he made his European debut as Almaviva in The Barber of Seville in Diisseldorf. Future engagements include appearances with the Houston Grand Opera, the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris, Opera Omaha, and his debut with the San Diego Opera.
Indiana native Ron Peo (Germont) made his debut with the National Company as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly and was re-engaged for Figaro in last year's tour of The Barber of Seville. He made his New York City Opera debut in 1988 as Germont and also appeared as Ezio in Attila and Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana. Other roles include Smirnov in Walton's The Bear and des Grieux in Massenet's Portrait of Manon, both with the Banff Festival of Arts in Canada, Marcello in Western Opera Theater's La Boheme, and as the four villains in The Tales ofHojfrnann with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. He has also portrayed Escamillo in Carmen, Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors, and the title role in Don Ciovanni.
Born in New York City, Joshua Greene (Conductor, Music Director) conducts for the first time with the New York City Opera National Company in this new production of La Traviata. Sarasota Opera audiences have heard his interpretations of Don Pasquale, Orfeo ed Euridice, La Traviata, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Madama Butterfly. In addition, he has led Rigoletto for the Augusta Opera as well as Cosifan tutte, Le Nozze di Figaro, and Don Giovanni for the Mozart Opera Project in New York City. In the concert hall, he was music director of the Adclphi Chamber Orchestra for three years and has appeared as guest conductor with the Jackson Symphony and the Pro Artc Chorale.
Annerose Schmidt, Pianist
Anne-Sophie Mutter, Violinist
Gail Dubinbaum, Mezzo-soprano
Vinson Cole, Tenor
Hermann Baumann, Horn
Jessye Norman, Soprano
Stephen Bryant, Bass-baritone
J. Patrick Raftery, Baritone
Wednesday -Mendelssohn: "Ruy Bias" Overture; Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4;
Schubert: Symphony No. 9 ("The Great") Thursday -Beethoven: "Leonore" Overture No. 3; Strauss: Horn Concerto No. 1;
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 in F minor Friday -Brahms: Violin Concerto in D major; Mendelssohn: "Die erste Walpurgisnacht"
(Festival Chorus, Dubinbaum, Cole, Raftery, Bryant) Saturday -Strauss: "Four Last Songs" (Norman); Bruckner: Symphony No. 7
Series tickets now on sale; single tickets available March 1.
UNIVERSITY MUSICAL SOCIETY Board of Directors
John W. Reed, President
David B. Kennedy, Vice President
Thomas E. Kauper, Secretary Norman G. Herbert, Treasurer
Robert G. Aldrich James J. Duderstadt Richard L. Kennedy
Patrick B. Long Judythe R. Maugh John D. Paul
John Psarouthakis Ann S. Schriber Herbert E. Sloan
Kenneth C. Fischer, Executive Director
Ann S. Schriber, Chair
Catherine Arcure Charles Borgsdorf Barbara Bryant Bradley Canale Sandra Connellan Katharine Cosovich Elena Delbanco Anne Duderstadt
Judy Fry Joann Gargaro Joyce Ginsberg Anne Glendon Charles Hills Stuart Isaac Janet Jeffries Frances Jelinek
Shirley Kauper Howard King Lynn Luckenbach Carl Lutkehaus Alan Mandel Ingrid Martin Charlotte McGeoch Joan Olsen
Agnes Reading Dorothy Reed Sally Rogers Alice Vining Raven Wallace Mary White Sally White Shelly Williams
University Choral Union and Festival Chorus
Donald T. Bryant Stephen L. Bryant Nancy Hodge Neal Kurz
Sally A. Cushing Leilani Denison Barbara L. Ferguson Michael L. Gowing
Michael Kondziolka Matthew Levy William Orr Laura Rosenberg
Robin Stephenson Drent Pamela S. Teeple Carol G. Wargelin LornaJ. Young
U-M Student Intern: Mark Ewing
Student Assistants: Sara Billmann, Michele Mustert, Susan Natan, Karen Paradis, Annette Sievert, Clare Stollak, Trevor Young
UNIVERSITY MUSICAL SOCIETY
Burton Memorial Tower, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1270 Telephone: (313) 764-2538