Monday, September 26, 2016

Pittsburgh Opera To Stage Verdi's La traviata

Party Scene from La traviata Photo: Eric Antoniou for Boston Lyric Opera © 2014

Pittsburgh Opera opens its 78th season with the Giuseppe Verdi favorite La traviata, at the Benedum Center October 8th -16th.

La traviata – the fallen woman – is a compelling tale of love, intrigue, money, and power in 19th century France.

It tells the heart-wrenching story of courtesan Violetta Valéry, played by Pittsburgh favorite Danielle Pastin. Alfredo Germont – played by Cody Austin in his Pittsburgh Opera debut – wins Violetta’s love and his father’s displeasure. His father, going behind Alfredo’s back, coerces Violetta into breaking up with Alfredo because their relationship threatens his daughter’s engagement and his family’s reputation.

Violetta will not disclose his father’s role in their breakup, so Alfredo erroneously believes she loves someone else. He publicly denounces her, leaving them both grief-stricken. Will they reconcile before it’s too late?

Pittsburgh Opera will be performing a production of La traviata which is new to Pittsburgh. Set in 19th century Paris, it does not shy away from some of the more ribald aspects of that society.

From the rousing “Brindisi” drinking song to touching arias, La traviata’s singing and music are sure to delight.

La traviata features a superlative cast, including:
Danielle Pastin (Violetta Valéry), a favorite of Pittsburgh Opera audiences, who last performed here in 2015’s Così fan tutte. Praised by Opera News as having “one of the most sheerly beautiful voices on the scene today,” the former Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist continues to gain critical acclaim for her engagements across the country and internationally. Ms. Pastin made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2011.
Cody Austin (Alfredo Germont), described as “beautifully talented” and “charismatic,” is making his Pittsburgh Opera debut. In March 2016, he sang this role with Opera Tampa, where the Tampa Bay Times said it was “a part he might have been born to play.” Mr. Austin has sung across the country to high praise.

La traviata - Previews on WQED-FM 89.3 and WQED.ORG
Saturday, October 1st from 12:30 PM - 1:00 PM and
Friday, October 7th from 7:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Hosted by WQED, and broadcast over the airwaves on WQED-FM 89.3 as well as the WQED website, the La traviata Preview gives listeners an engaging introduction to the singers, music, and story of the opera. For more information:

Pre-opera Talks for La traviata
One hour prior to each performance
Benedum Center

Ticketholders are invited to attend a free Pre-Opera Talk one hour before each performance’s curtain in the Main Floor/Orchestra section of the Benedum Center. Learn about the composer, the story and some juicy details about the opera!

Pre-Opera Talks are free to all ticketholders at all performances.

Audio Commentary: La traviata
Tuesday, October 11th, 7:00 PM
Benedum Center

Ticketholders with visual impairments are invited to use Pittsburgh Opera’s Audio
Description service at our Tuesday performances. Trained volunteers describe the scenery, costumes, and stage action. The listeners hear these descriptions via assistive listening devices. Those wishing to use Audio Description should reserve seats to the Tuesday, October 11th performance by contacting Regina Connolly at 412-281-0912, ext. 213 or Braille and large-print programs are also available.

Meet the Artists of La traviata
Tuesday, October 11th
Immediately following the opera, in the Benedum Center’s Lower Lobby

Ticketholders for the Tuesday, October 11th performance of La traviata are invited to gather in the Benedum Lower Lobby immediately following the performance for interviews with General Director Christopher Hahn and the stars of the opera. This event is free to all Tuesday performance ticketholders.

October Brown Bag concert
Saturday, October 15, 2016 Noon - 1:00PM
George R. White Opera Studio, Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters, 2425 Liberty Avenue

You're invited to Pittsburgh Opera’s free October Brown Bag concert. The program includes some of our 2016-17 Resident Artists' favorite selections. It's free and open to everyone. Bring a friend and bring a lunch! Meet the Resident Artists afterward in an informal reception.

Doors open at 11:30AM. Handicapped parking is available by reservation. For more information: 412-281-0912 or

    Sebastian Catana (Giorgio Germont), also making his Pittsburgh Opera debut. Originally from Romania, Mr. Catana first performed at the Metropolitan Opera in La bohème in 2003. Despite the fact that most of his performances are in Europe, Mr. Catana and his family live in Bethel Park.

On stage October 8, 11, 14 & 16, La traviata is an unforgettable way to open the opera season. Tickets start at just $12 and are available online.

Three facts about La traviata

La traviata is the opera that Richard Gere took Julia Roberts to see in the hit movie Pretty Woman. In the movie, Julia Roberts plays a prostitute who falls in love with a wealthy man, and La traviata moved her character deeply enough to exclaim “it was so good I almost peed my pants.”

As the most popular opera in the world, even non-opera fans know the music from La traviata. It’s been featured in TV commercials for all things Italian, and the Brindisi drinking song was the bedrock of a classic Heineken commercial.
Violetta wears a white camellia flower on her dress, which she removes in the first act and tosses to Alfredo. In the book Lady of the Camellias by Alexander Dumas, fils, which La traviata is based on, the Violetta character, also a prostitute, wears a white camellia to signify she is ‘available’ for customers, and a red one to signify she is not.

The story, in brief:

Pittsburgh Opera’s production of Verdi's La traviata takes place in France during the mid-1800s.

The story opens in Paris. Violetta Valéry has been out most of the night running from party to party with her friends, who are now continuing the festivities in her luxurious apartment.

An admirer of Violetta’s, Alfredo Germont, who has long adored her from afar, flirts with her in a rousing drinking song, the famous Brindisi “Libiamo ne’lieti calici.”

Alfredo then proceeds to confess to Violetta that he has loved her for more than a year. Moved, Violetta attempts to warn Alfredo, saying that she “doesn’t know how to love.” Besides, as you’ll hear in a stunning aria, Violetta wants to be ‘sempre libera’ – always free. “Free and aimless she must flutter, from pleasure to pleasure.”

Alfredo eventually wins Violetta over, and they move to a house in the country. Alfredo sings about how happy he has been ever since Violetta told him “I want to live, faithful to you alone.”

However, Alfredo’s father Giorgio Germont disapproves of Violetta’s relationship with Alfredo, because it threatens his family’s reputation and also his daughter’s engagement. He coerces Violetta into breaking up with Alfredo, then returns to console his son and remind him of his loving family back home in Provence.

Alfredo confronts Violetta at a party. She will not disclose his father’s role in their breakup, so Alfredo erroneously believes she loves someone else. Angry, he scorns her and storms off.

Violetta and Alfredo are both miserable. Six months later, Germont finally confesses his plot to Alfredo. Alfredo regrets the way he mistreated Violetta and attempts to reconcile. Violetta, however, is sadly succumbing to tuberculosis, and bids farewell “to happy dreams of by-gone days.” Alfredo's father enters with a doctor, regretting what he has done. However, it is too late – she dies in Alfredo's arms.

Tickets and Group Discounts:

Tickets to all performances of La traviata start at $12
All performances are at the Benedum Center, 7th Street and Penn Avenue, in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District

To purchase tickets, call 412-456-6666, visit the Theatre Square Box Office, or buy online at
Group discounts are available. For discounted group tickets (6 or more), contact Regina Connolly at 412-281-0912, x 213

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