Review: LA Opera’s Spectacular “La Traviata”

Adela Zaharia as Violetta, and Rame Lahaj as Alfredo in LA Opera's "La Traviata." Photos by Craig T. Mathew

On Saturday, LA Opera ended its 2019 season in grand style with the opening of the ever-popular, La Traviata (The Fallen Woman) directed by Marta Domingo. Although composed in the 19th Century by Giuseppe Verdi, the three-act opera has been transported to the roaring 20’s with impressive results, proving that a good yarn is not only timeless, but fit for multiple mediums.

Adela Zaharia as Violetta in LA Opera’s “La Traviata.” Photos by Craig T. Mathew

The first incarnation was as the novel “La Dame aux Camélias” by Alexander Dumas fils, then a play (which Verdi was inspired by in Paris), and finally, the quintessential opera we now enjoy. Considering the emotional rollercoaster, replete with archetypal doomed lovers, unshakable pasts, and the de-rigueur tragic ending, it’s no wonder the opera succeeds so well.

Adela Zaharia as Violetta, and Erica Petrocelli as Annina in LA Opera’s “La Traviata.” Photos by Craig T. Mathew

Violetta is the titular fallen woman whose life is one endless party until she meets Alfredo – dashingly handsome, passionate, but of modest means. From the beginning, when she goes into a coughing and fainting spell at a lavish party, we are made aware of her tuberculosis and that tragedy looms ahead, making her one chance at true love and happiness that much more precious and imperative. Violetta and Alfredo seize this opportunity and retreat to an idyllic life away from Paris’s “party circuit”, but as Violetta soon realizes, though “God shows his mercy, Man will never forgive” her courtesan past. It’s only a matter of time before she is called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice and save the honor of Alfredo’s family by giving him up.

A scene from LA Opera’s “La Traviata” with (center) Peabody Southwell as Flora and Juan Carlos Heredia as Marquis d’Obigny. Photos by Craig T. Mathew

As Violetta, soprano Adela Zaharia (Rigoletto) is vocally and visually spectacular, and the complex coloratura, Sempre Libera, as she tries to resist Alfredo’s earnest overture, brought the audience to the point of rapture. Kosovan tenor, Rame Lahaj is also a powerhouse, robust yet controlled, complementing Zaharia so harmoniously that their love for each other feels that much more convincing. The Deco-inspired production by Domingo is sumptuously lavish, and amplified by Alan Burrett’s meticulous lighting which makes autumn trees with falling leaves and a night sky with gentle snow visceral and dreamy.

What a way to end a season! We can hardly wait for what LA Opera has in store.

— G. Dhalla

LA Opera’s Production of La Traviata is playing at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion through June 22nd. Get your tickets HERE.