Elizabeth Futral: In less than a decade the young American soprano’s career has ranged far and wide. Last season she was the Stella in Andre Previn‘s A Streetcar Named Desire at its San Francisco premiere, a role of high drama but musical impoverishment. This was her first Violetta, but she fulfilled the opera as though she’d lived in it all her life. Opera Pacific‘s Costa Mesa audiences are only slowly overcoming the Orange County image of cultural reluctance, but the crowd this time knew to stand and cheer.
On a handsome production borrowed from the San Francisco Opera, Linda Brovsky created a lively and genuinely provocative staging, from the crossed lines of social hostility among guests in the opening party scene to the chill grayness of the final scene. David Miller, the handsome, believable Alfredo, sang with a young-sounding voice if not yet fully supported; Louis Otey was the elder Germont, hearty of voice and sympathetic of manner. Best of all, the performance fairly glowed under the baton of John Mauceri, whose shaping of the opening prelude, even with an undernourished pit orchestra, gave notice of a careful, loving exposition of Verdi’s wondrous score. Traditional cuts -- the second-act cabalettas for Alfredo and Germont -- were opened, at least one of two stanzas each; the first-act backstage music was played backstage, as is proper but doesn‘t always happen.
As the Los Angeles Opera faces its iffy future under incoming leadership, 50 miles down the interstate there are signs of some healthy competition from the reborn Opera Pacific. So far, at least, so good.