New Philharmonic opens 2018 with Verdi's "La Traviata"
"If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her," said Jesus to the teachers of the law and the Pharisees when they brought in a woman caught in adultery (John 8:7). In the Bible, no one condemned her after these words. However, over centuries women have been frequently criticized and have paid a high price for their sins.
One of the greatest examples of the tragic destiny of a fallen woman is "La Traviata," an opera written by famous Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi.
New Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Kirk Muspratt, is delighted to present this brilliant masterpiece at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28, at the spectacular McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn.
Based on the romantic novel called "La Dame aux Camellias" ("The Lady of the Camellias") by French author and playwright Alexandre Dumas, fils, this opera has been one of the most frequently performed operas in the world since Verdi's times and up to our days. It is set in the period of the 1850s in Paris. The opera describes a touching story of an attractive young courtesan Violetta who has to leave the love of her life, Alfredo, in order to save the honor of his family and particularly of his young sister who is about to marry a reputable man. The story becomes even more tragic as at the end of the opera Violetta dies of consumption.
The libretto in Italian was written by Francesco Maria Piave, and Verdi embraced it with memorable and sparkling melodies, intimate scale, brilliant instrumentation, and wonderful harmonies. Many of the arias from "La Traviata" are so popular that they are frequently performed in concerts separately from the opera itself. The audience will recognize familiar melodies that they have heard many times before without realizing that they were arias from "La Traviata." The aria "Sempre libera" is especially well known and appreciated as a beautiful, yet extremely challenging and demanding soprano aria. "La Traviata" is popular for featuring some of the most revered music in the entire soprano repertoire.
"It is my favorite opera of Verdi," said Maestro Kirk Muspratt, artistic/music director and conductor of the New Philharmonic Orchestra. "The music is stunning and the staging is beautiful. 'La Traviata' is the most perfect opera you can have. I try to make it sound 'Verdi' as much as I can, using the modern instruments and adjusting the loudness of each instrument to make it sound just right. Working on the music is a long and complicated process -- you have to put thousands and thousands of markings on the sheet music and think through every little detail."
Hailed by Rheinische Post as a "born opera conductor," Maestro Muspratt knows exactly how to make this production unforgettable. Full of endless energy and ideas, he understands that the best results can be accomplished only in a successful collaboration where every team member knows exactly what needs to be done and how the desired results should be achieved. Maestro is proud to work with talented stage director Harry Silverstein, who has professionally directed over ninety productions of forty operas on four continents and whose expertize on staging this beloved and emotionally engaging opera is unrivaled. Maestro Muspratt also deeply appreciates and values the work of such devoted and highly skilled professionals as chorus director Lisa Kristina, set designer John Gantt, costume designer Kim Morris, lighting designer Elias Morales, properties designer Jillian Luce, and stage manager Isabelle Rund.
"La Traviata" is sung in Italian with English supertitles. This beautiful production promises to impress the audience with carefully selected vocalists who fit best the complicated characters of the opera and together create a great ensemble. "Casting is very important," noted Maestro Muspratt, who was fortunate enough to choose from many talented and skillful singers. Casting has been always at the forefront for Maestro Muspratt, and this time he again performed his job brilliantly.
Chicago's Katherine R. Weber will star in the role of Violetta during both performances of "La Traviata" at the MAC. Known for singing "the most demanding of arias with seemingly little effort", this young, yet incredibly talented and confident performer has already successfully portrayed Violetta with Aspen Music Festival, the Boulder Symphony, and with Central City Opera. Her mastership, enthusiasm, and professional approach combined with her naturally beautiful voice and pleasant appearance make her a perfect match for this role.
The musical puzzle of "La Traviata" wouldn't be complete without the input of each and every soloist appearing on the stage and without their help in unfolding Violetta's dramatic story. This brilliant cast includes such talented singers as James Judd in the role of Gastone, Scott Ramsay in the role of Alfredo, Aaron Wardell in the role of Marquis E'Obigny, Ian Hosack in the role of Baron Douphol, Karen Archbold in the role of Flora, Corey Crider in the role of Giorgi, Bill Ortega in the role of Giuseppe, Cade Crider in the role of the Commissioner (mail boy), Jennifer Barrett in the role of Annina, and Bryan Dahl in the role of Dr. Grenville.
The chorus plays a great role in this opera and helps to connect the opera's lyrical high points with the dramatic action on the stage. The chorus is proud to represent talents from eight communities from throughout the greater Chicago area and includes Ben Adair, Joe Arko, Lindsey Dondanville Arko, Allison Cook, Anjali Dziarski, Sarah Thompson Johansen, Kyle Minette, Erika Morrison, Reed Pence, Erin Perry and Owen Woodward.
New Philharmonic Orchestra, the only professional orchestra based in DuPage County, is happy to present the beautiful production of "La Traviata" to its audience. Love and passion, sacrifice and death -- witness all the aspects of life demonstrated in Verdi's timeless masterpiece.
For tickets and information, visit www.atthemac.org/events/guiseppe-verdis-la-traviata/ or call (630) 942-4000.
A free "MAC Chat" will take place one hour prior to each performance, led by Lucille Mok, assistant professor in music at the College of DuPage. Immediately after each performance, everyone is invited to "Cookies with Kirk."