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Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013

A Crowd-Pleasing ‘La Traviata’

Florentine Opera brings magic to Verdi’s classic

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The Florentine Opera’s beautiful production of Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata was a crowd-pleasing success. It takes a certain magic to bring together all the elements of this subtle masterpiece, which requires exceptional acting skills to match the aesthetic demands of the score. Thanks to Director William Florescu and Production Manager Lisa Kelly, the stunning production—encased within a specially designed proscenium—created a charming, storybook background for Violetta’s tragic tale. The vivid sets and colorful costumes brought immediate applause as the first act curtain rose.

Cuban-American soprano Elizabeth Caballero took on the great role with confidence and sincerity, sampling her lovel, pearly toned soprano voice with cautious discretion, only occasionally displaying a shade of dryness in strenuous passages, as in the final moments of the concluding first act  “sempre libre.” However, with greater consistency, her gleaming vocalization seemed thrillingly effortless in high pianissimo passages above the staff. She moderated drama with carefully poised vocalization, taking care never to force her voice, especially in the final acts. Ultimately La Traviata belongs to Violetta, and one is left with a touching sense of the poignancy with which Caballero balances beautiful notes and the more understated demands of the great role. Her performance was moving.

Tenor Rolando Senz has a moderately pleasant voice, but Alfredo is rarely an exciting role and one can sympathize with Senz’s discrete approach, which sought only to complement Caballero’s characterization. Mark Walters as the imposing father figure, Germont, appeared uncertain as to how to contain his grand baritone voice within the sympathetic confines of his role, giving an overly cautious performance that seemed too stiff at times and somewhat hampered the effectiveness of the famous second act duet. Yet, he is a fine singer, performing his famous “Di Provenza” aria to enthusiastic applause. He came off best when reproving his son in the third act denunciation scene. 

Conductor Joseph Mechavich did a superlative job of underlining the dramatic moments, emphasizing the climaxes without overwhelming the stage action.