La Traviata
Los Angeles Review by Willard Manus

Violetta as a 1920s American flapper? Flora Bervoix’s third-act party taking place in a black and white Art Deco nightclub?
These were just a few of the 20th century touches director/designer Marta Domingo brought to L.A. Opera’s recent production of Verdi’s LA TRAVIATA.
Domingo’s Roaring Twenties theme made for an eye-catching spectacle, one that was filled with elegantly (and skimpily) dressed vamps doing the Charleston, tuxedo-clad gents ogling them with undisguised lust. A gleaming Rolls Royce convertible drove on stage at one point.
Dazzling as all this affluence and sophistication was, it also overwhelmed the story at times. It was hard to believe that the courtesan Violetta (Nino Machaidze) was not only running out of money but dying of consumption. Having her die on a luxurious bed under a star-filled sky was another tactical mistake.
It remained for the singers and Verdi’s immortal music to save the production from disaster. The soprano Machaidze started the night off slowly and hesitantly, but when she warmed up and attacked Act One’s two famous arias (especially “Ah fors e lui”) her voice became a thing of beauty and radiance. She was helped considerably by Arturo Chacon-Cruz’s Alfredo; the Mexican-born tenor excelled in the love songs he shared with her, and made a strong, if not memorable, impression in his own arias as the story unfolded.

Placido Domingo (Marta’s husband), now singing late in his career as a baritone, weighed in significantly as Giorgio Germont, the nobleman whose rigid bourgeois morality and desperate need for money breaks up the love affair between Violetta and Alfredo. His anguish stemming from the later realization that he has been complicit in Violetta’s death was both palpable and heart-breaking.
LA TRAVIATA kicked off L.A. Opera’s 2014/15 season. Among the November/December highlights are the double-bill of DIDO AND AENEAS/BLUEBEARD’S CASTLE; the concert by Sondra Radvanovsky (songs by Beethoven, Verdi, Duparc, Rachmaninov and Copland); and the return of Daniel Catan’s FLORENCIA EN EL AMAZONAS.
(Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave. For tickets and information, call 213-972-8001 or visit