La Traviata

Synopsis courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago

VERDI’S MUSIC IS INCOMPARABLE, WITH ONE HEARTSTOPPINGLY BEAUTIFUL MELODY AFTER ANOTHER, in this exquisitely romantic story. Within the social whirl of sophisticated Paris, the courtesan Violetta lives purely for pleasure but longs for true love. She finds the right man in Alfredo, but their happiness is cut short: at his father’s insistence, Violetta leaves Alfredo for the sake of his family. Her spirit broken, her health shattered, Violetta now lives only with the hope that Alfredo will return to her. La Traviata gives us one of opera’s most glorious heroines, a woman of boundless humanity and emotional depth.

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September 13, 2018   7:30 PM 

September 15, 2018   7:30 PM 

H-E-B Performance Hall, Tobin Center for the Performing Arts

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Summary courtesy of Met Opera  

ACT I

Violetta Valéry knows that she will die soon, exhausted by her restless life as a courtesan. at a party she is introduced to Alfredo Germont, who has been fascinated by her for a long time. rumor has it that he has been enquiring after her health every day. the guests are amused by this seemingly naïve and emotional attitude, and they ask alfredo to propose a toast. he celebrates true love, and Violetta responds in praise of free love. she is touched by his candid manner and honesty. suddenly she feels faint, and the guests withdraw. only alfredo remains behind and declares his love. there is no place for such feelings in her life, Violetta replies. but she gives him a camellia, asking him to return when the flower has faded. he realizes this means he will see her again the following day. alone, Violetta is torn by conflicting emotions—she doesn’t want to give up her way of life, but at the same time she feels that alfredo has awakened her desire to be truly loved.

ACT II

Violetta has chosen a life with Alfredo, and they enjoy their love in the country, far from society. When Alfredo discovers that this is only possible because Violetta has been selling her property, he immediately leaves for Paris to procure money. Violetta has received an invitation to a masked ball, but she no longer cares for such distractions. In Alfredo’s absence, his father, Giorgio Germont, pays her a visit. He demands that she separate from his son, as their relationship threatens his daughter’s impending marriage. But over the course of their conversation, Germont comes to realize that Violetta is not after his son’s money—she is a woman who loves unselfishly. He appeals to Violetta’s generosity of spirit and explains that, from a bourgeois point of view, her liaison with Alfredo has no future. Violetta’s resistance dwindles and she finally agrees to leave Alfredo forever. Only after her death shall he learn the truth about why she returned to her old life. She accepts the invitation to the ball and writes a goodbye letter to her lover. Alfredo returns, and while he is reading the letter, his father appears to console him. But all the memories of home and a happy family can’t prevent the furious and jealous Alfredo from seeking revenge for Violetta’s apparent betrayal.

At the masked ball, news has spread of Violetta and Alfredo’s separation. There are grotesque dance entertainments, ridiculing the duped lover. Meanwhile, Violetta and her new lover, Baron Douphol, have arrived. Alfredo and the baron battle at the gaming table and Alfredo wins a fortune: lucky at cards, unlucky in love. When everybody has withdrawn, Alfredo confronts Violetta, who claims to be truly in love with the baron. In his rage Alfredo calls the guests as witnesses and declares that he doesn’t owe Violetta anything. He throws his winnings at her. Giorgio Germont, who has witnessed the scene, rebukes his son for his behavior. The baron challenges his rival to a duel.

ACT III

Violetta is dying. Her last remaining friend, Doctor Grenvil, knows that she has only a few more hours to live. Alfredo’s father has written to Violetta, informing her that his son was not injured in the duel. Full of remorse, Germont has told his son about Violetta’s sacrifice. Alfredo wants to rejoin her as soon as possible. Violetta is afraid that he might be too late. The sound of rampant celebrations are heard outside while Violetta is in mortal agony. But Alfredo does arrive and the reunion fills her with a final euphoria. Her energy and exuberant joy of life return. All sorrow and suffering seem to have left her—a final illusion, before death claims her.

 

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Stage Director:
Garnett Bruce
Conductor:
Francesco Milioto
Violetta:
Amanda Woodbury
Alfredo:
David Portillo
Germont:
Weston Hurt
Flora Bervoix:
Orit Eylon
Annina:
Kara Covey

OPERA San Antonio in the News

THANK GOD We Don't All Look and Sound the Same

Photo Credit: Eric Antoniou. Weston Hurt as Germont in La Traviata at Boston Lyric Opera (2014).
When I first decided that I wanted to pursue a career as a professional singer, it never occurred to me that being born without my right hand would ever be an issue. To some extent, it never really has been. Yet, in other ways, it has played a significant role in shaping the artist that I have become today. I remember the first conversation that I ever had about performing with a prosthesis was during the summer while at my first apprentice program. At that time the artistic director mentioned that it could be a factor at some point that people might have an issue with, but then jokingly said, “only until you get famous enough to when they won’t care anymore”.   
Weston Hurt as Nabucco in Nabucco at Seattle Opera (2015). Photo by Elisa Bakketun.
It wasn’t until some time later, after I had finished my education and formal training that I really saw his words turn true.  I remember singing an audition in New York City where many different companies from Europe came to the United States to hear singers in audition. My manager contacted me and said that an important opera company in Germany was very interested in offering me a fest contract as long as I had a prosthesis. At the time I didn’t possess one, so I ended up losing out on the offer. It was then when I began thinking about various companies in America that might have been too politically correct to mention anything, but had decided to pass on me simply out of fear that I wouldn’t be able to portray a certain character with only one hand. In fact, there was one audition in which I was told point blank that while I had sung perhaps the best "Largo al factotum” (Il barbiere di Siviglia) that he might had ever heard, he didn’t think that a Figaro with one hand would be marketable to his audience. So, I decided to seek out financial assistance to acquire a cosmetic prosthesis in hopes to level the playing field. Only a year later, I had attained a cosmetic prosthesis and was surprised in what a difference having my prosthesis made in my auditions. One could argue that I had improved as a singer/auditioner over the past year, but I also had industry people telling me (in whispered tones) that they were so happy I had made the decision to procure a prosthesis. My biggest surprise came once I arrived at my first contracted engagement after receiving my prosthesis and was asked by the director if I would mind not wearing it for the role of Sharpless in Madama Butterfly. After talking about the character with the director, we made the decision that this was perhaps why Sharpless had the desk job. Maybe he was injured in war and had been assigned the American Consulate position after being discharged. It made perfect sense, brought a uniqueness to the character, allowed me to be myself on stage, and brought something new to a story that audiences had seen time and time again.  It wasn’t until the review appeared in a major industry magazine, "Weston Hurt was a sympathetic Sharpless, his own real-life physical limitation - he has no right arm - never preventing him from singing with caring and poise.” that I realized our plan had backfired.  Still being able to sing with care and poise even though I only had one hand wasn’t the image that I was trying to portray.  
Weston Hurt as Scarpia in Tosca at Tulsa Opera (2017). Photo by Shane Bevel.
Thankfully, I am at a place in my career now where I am able to make the decision alongside the director whether or not my character would have one hand or two and reviewers, for the most part, have stopped mentioning it.  I find, as it always has, that it brings greater depth to the character should we decide to not wear my prosthesis for Nabucco, Sharpless, or Rigoletto or to start the role of Valentin with the prosthesis only to return in act 3, home from war, without it.  Or better yet, in my Houston Grand Opera debut as Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca, the brilliant director John Caird had the idea for me to remove my prosthesis on stage during act 2 to heighten the level of drama with Tosca. These choices are unique to me and are simply there to add to the drama of the storytelling which allows me to create a character which is four-dimensional.  
Weston Hurt as Germont in La Traviata at Atlanta Opera (2013). Photo by Jeff Roffman. 
At the end of the day, who’s to say that any of these characters had two hands to begin with? I understand that it might initially draw attention on stage, but is that such a bad thing? We are fortunate enough to have artists who possess their own unique characteristics of all shapes, sizes, and abilities - and THANK GOD we don’t all look and sound the same! The sooner we begin to realize that the things which define us are indeed the things that create that attraction from the audience, the sooner we can embrace that which makes us unique.  – Weston Hurt Article courtesy of Opera and Disability   www.operaanddisability.com/home/weston-hurt