La Traviata at LA Opera – The Lady Has Been Paid In Full

Rachel Willis-Sorenson as Violetta Valery in the LA Opera production of La Traviata. Photo by Cory Weaver, used with permission. 

In the current LA Opera production of La Traviata, relocated here from San Francisco, things are presented with a highly modern touch of naughtiness. From the opening party scene, the action periperhal to the singing shows a visible sexual tension among the attendees. The Spanish Dancers from Flora’s soiree get a cheeky update that turns out to be quite a stunning optical illusion. The staging tends to bright pastel colors. In contrast to the deep-red-velvet hued version that ran at the Chandler for at least twenty years, it feels much more like springtime in Paris.

But the true reason to catch this production in its final week is the vocal performance of Rachel Willis-Sorenson as Violetta. She wowed us as Desdemona in Otello last fall, and did not disappoint upon her return in one of the most famous and beloved roles from this repertoire. This piece depends heavily on the coloratura capacity of the singer, and she’s got a truly special instrument. Darkness and light can occur even at the highest of the high notes.

The entire vocal performance is a knockout, and Verdi under James Conlon’s conducting seems right to me. This is like the Taylor Swift concert of operas, a real pop showstopper (right up to that slow-burn bummer of an ending, at least.) And this edition hits those big notes in a satisfying way.

La Traviata appears at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Wednesday, April 24 and Saturday, April 27. Tickets are available at the LA Opera website.

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