IF YOU KNEW TB, LIKE I KNEW TB

Despite its soapy melodramatics, nobody ever seems to get tired of La Traviata . The famed courtesan Violetta is romanced by the infatuated young nobleman Alfredo Germont, but alas, Violetta has two strikes against her: one, her dubious reputation and two, the fact that she's dying of consumption. Nonetheless, she succumbs to her young lover's ardor and they set up housekeeping together in the country. But Alfredo's dad, the elegant Count Germont, isn't happy about this arrangement, because the gossip is hurting his family and his daughter's chances of matrimony ("I have a daughter as pure as an angel…" he pleads, in a famous aria). Feeling chastened, and knowing she's about to die anyway, the heartbroken Violetta sends Alfredo packing. Ah, but the fires of True Love cannot be so easily put out. After the turtledoves have a few big rows, Alfredo learns of Violetta's sacrifice and rushes back to her. Unfortunately, his amour expires in his arms, but not before she sings her big swan song, "Gran Dio! Morir si giovane!" (Oh, God! To die so young!") How somebody in the final throes of TB can manage to belt out an aria is something that's never been explained, but heck, that's opera. And if it sounds an awful lot like La Boheme --the consumptive Mimi and starving poet Rodolfo fall in love, break up because of a misunderstanding, and reunite just in time for Mimi's melodious demise--well, Puccini couldn't resist the suffering lover/disease of the week themes. But we forgive him because the music is just so delicious. LA Opera reprises its sumptuous 2006 production of Traviata with a foolproof cast that includes sopranos Marina Poplavskaya and Elizabeth Futral alternating as Violetta; Massimo Giordano (pictured) and Aleksei Dolgov sharing the role of Alfredo; and baritones Andrzej Dobber and Stephen Powell trading off as Count Germont. Los Angeles Master Chorale director Grant Gershon makes his Company debut as conductor; directed by Marta Domingo. At the Music Center; opens Thurs., May 21, 7:30pm; continues May 27 & 30 & June 6 & 10, 7:30pm; mats June 3, 14 & 21, 2pm; $20-$250. (213) 972-8001, www.laopera.com . --MBC
Wed., May 6; Sun., May 10; Thu., May 14; Thu., May 21, 7:30 p.m.; Wed., May 27, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., May 30, 7:30 p.m.; Wed., June 3, 1 p.m.; Sat., June 6, 7:30 p.m.; Wed., June 10, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., June 14, 2 p.m.; Sun., June 21, 2 p.m., 2009


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