Just after the end of summer, on September 13th and 15th, OPERA San Antonio will present Verdi’s La Traviata. This will be OSA’s third Verdi opera, after our 2015 concert
version of Il Trovatore and our 2017 Macbeth. It follows the huge success of La Boheme in May.
La Traviata was Verdi’s 19th opera, written in 1853, right after Rigoletto and Il Trovatore,
Verdi was 40. The title means The Fallen Woman. It is adapted from the famous play, The
Lady of the Camellias, by Alexandre Dumas fils (the son). Between Dumas’s play and Verdi’s opera, this is one of the best-known stories of the 19th century. (The death of the heroine from “consumption,” as it was called in the 19th century, means that this will be OPERA San Antonio’s second opera in a row with a heroine who dies of tuberculosis.)
We are bringing this opera to San Antonio because it is a very great work of art. It is the
single most performed opera world-wide. Some opera planners call this an “A list” opera;
others, more jaded and in search of novelty, call it a “warhorse.” But what is old to some is new to many, and we believe it is essential in introducing grand opera to our community to start with the very greatest works. La Traviata is “A list” because its music is unforgettable, its roles are made for great singing, its story is heart breaking, and overall it produces magic. That is what we believe we need to show San Antonio if we are going to reestablish a form of art and entertainment which has been produced very little here in the last 50 years. The great British poet Matthew Arnold wrote that it is our obligation to know “the best that has been thought and said in the world.” The best that has been thought and said … and written and sung. The best because it produces magic, time after time.
We ask you to consider that OPERA San Antonio has a unique set of challenges that do
not normally face a small, startup non-profit arts organization. We are a resident company of the Tobin Center, and as such we must produce operas that fully use and do justice to a major venue. Our operas must be big enough to properly occupy that great space. We must stretch to have the biggest and finest voices and the best sets we can afford. This is not the place for experimentation or novelties. On the contrary, this is the place, and now is the time, to show opera at its most powerful. Until the day when this startup opera company can do more than two operas a year, we must choose very carefully to show San Antonio the best that has been written. It is worth reminding the people who have seen it all before, that they should want all of us to have a chance to see it. After all, you can never have too much magic.
We urge all of you to come help us put the Grand back into Grand Opera. At the Tobin
Center, September 13 and 15.