In his first Live in HD transmission as the Metropolitan Opera’s Music Director, Canadian conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads a new production of Verdi’s La Traviata for the Met, to be screened live in cinemas and performing arts centers worldwide.
This presentation of La Traviata is hosted by Georgian soprano Anita Rachvelishvili, production is by Michael Mayer, and soprano Diana Damrau sings the role of the tragic heroine Violetta Valéry, the ‘fallen woman’ of the title. Tenor Juan Diego Flórez makes his role debut as her lover Alfredo, and baritone Quinn Kelsey is Alfredo’s father, Count Germont, who cannot stand the shame of his son’s relationship with a courtesan and sets about destroying their relationship. It’s only as he watches the suffering of is son as Violetta is dying that he accepts the consequences of his actions.
Verdi’s three-act opera, with an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, is based on the 1852 play La Dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils, which in turn was based on Dumas’ 1848 novel of the same name. Inspiration for the novel came from an actual ‘lady of pleasure’ whom Dumas had known and adored. The opera, which premiered at La Fenice in Venice on March 6th, 1853, became one of Verdi’s most frequently performed during his lifetime – and continues to be so today.
The reviews of the Met Opera’s production have been glowing. “Nézet-Séguin’s La Traviata at the Met brings down the house”, says the Philadelphia Inquirer, referring to its “Spontaneity, freshness and originality”, and adding “This goes to the top of my Traviata pantheon”.
German soprano Diana Damrau has been appearing on the world’s leading opera and concert stages – such as The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Vienna State Opera, Opera Nationale de Paris, Bavarian State Opera and at the Salzburg Festival – for the past two decades, with a repertoire which includes both lyric soprano and coloratura roles. Describing this production as “A sensation …”, WQXR writes: “Damrau masterfully maintained melodic continuity without sacrificing effect. This was acting of Shakespearean caliber, the likes of which hasn’t often been seen at the Met since the 1970s heyday of Jon Vickers and Renata Scotto …”. while the New York Times describes Ms Damrau as “an extraordinary Violetta, singing with big, plush yet focused sound …”.
Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez makes his role debut as Alfredo in this production of La Traviata, and according to a review in the Observer, he “…. revealed that his exquisite legato and mezza voce have held up gorgeously in the four seasons since he last sang at the Met, and he looked fetching”. Having made his debut at the Met in 2002 – as Count Almaviva in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia – Juan Diego Flórez has been a frequent guest artist for the Company. Other notable landmarks in his career include his having made history at La Scala in 2007 when he broke a 70 year-old taboo and gave the first encore in the theatre since 1933. In 2010 he performed at the Opening Night Gala of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the following year he funded Sinfonía por el Perú, a social inclusion project enhancing, through music, the artistic and personal development of vulnerable children and youth in his home country.
Hawaiian baritone Quinn Kelsey – a graduate of San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program and of Ryan Opera Center in Chicago – was the recipient of the 2015 Metropolitan Opera’s Beverly Sills Award, and is a popular choice for the Verdi, Puccini and French repertoires in opera houses such as the Metropolitan and San Francisco Operas, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the Opernhaus Zürich. Seen and Heard International refers to him as “a Verdi baritone of the first rank”, The Globe and Mail describes him as “stupendous”, and according to WQXR, “Quinn Kelsey left no doubt that a major Verdi baritone has arrived”.
Having recently taken up the position of the third Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera, Yannick Nézet-Séguin was previously Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharnonic Orchestra – of which he is now Honorary Conductor – and has held the same position for both the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Orchestre Métropolitain of Montreal. The Financial Times describes Maestro Nézet-Séguin as “The greatest generator of energy on the international podium”, and the Montreal Gazette refers to him as having “The world at his fingertips”.
American theatre, film and television director, Michael Mayer won the 2007 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for Spring Awakening (which also won the award for Best Musical). He won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical for both Spring Awakening and Thoroughly Modern Millie – for which he also received a Tony nomination in 2002 – and which he also directed in London’s West End.
The Metropolitan Opera’s production of La Traviata will be transmitted live to cinemas across the United States on Saturday, December 15th at 12 noon (Eastern Time), and for those not in the US, please check your local theatre for dates and times of screenings, on metopera.org/hd.
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