BY Iride Aparicio

Photos Courtesy: Opera SAN JOSE


SAN JOSÉ, CA – From the first Pianissimo sounds of  the lyric overture of  “LA TRAVIATA,” where the highest tones of  the violins’ section appear to be expressing  a mélange of  human sadness and passion, the O.S.J. orchestra, under the baton of  Co-Conductor DENNIS DOUBLIN established the pathos of  the opera,  considered by many to have  VERDI’s most beautiful melodies.

Based on the play “La Dame aux Camelias” (The Lady of the Camellias) a play written by ALEXANDRE DUMAS son, with Libretto by FRANCESCO MARIA PIAVE, the opera, which talks place in Paris in the l700,  tells the story of Violetta Valéry,(AMANDA KINGSTON) a Parisian courtesan, and Alfredo Germont, (PENE  PATI) a  provincial man who after falling in love with her moved with her to a country house that she manages to pays for, selling all of her possessions. When Alfredo, a poor student, learns about it, he returns to Paris to get some money from his family. And knowing that he had left Viloletta alone, Alfredo’s father comes to visit her and pleads with her to leave his son forever, because their "relationship" is destroying their family’s honor. Because of her great love to Alfredo, she agrees to give him up and go back to Paris.

Thinking that the reason why Violetta left him was to go back to her former life, Alfredo goes to Flora’s (CHRISTINA PEZZAROSSI) party, where he knows she had been invited, to look for her. When he finds her, he throws all the money that he had won gambling at Violetta, humiliating her in front of all her friends.

PEZZAROSSI  as Flora, KINGSTON as Violetta and GATES as Vicomte

After a gun duel with the Vicomte de Letorieres (MASON GATES) who was fought by him with Alfredo to defend Violetta’s honor, Alfredo is forced to leave Paris because he hurt the Vicomte in the duel. Violetta, now poor and ill with tuberculosis, is now back in her house. Soon after, Violetta dies, and she dies in Alfredo’s arms  after Alfredo’s father realized that the courtesan, loved Alfredo so much that she did not hesitate to sacrifice her love and let him go to save his family’s honor. He visits her and calling her "daughter," asks Violetta for forgiveness. He also allows  Alfredo, to return to her, but sadly, when he does, it is too late.

Tenor PENE PATI as Alfredo Germont

The name of the “real”  “Lady of the camellias” in Paris, was MARIE DUPLESSIS. She was only 23 year old when he died from tuberculosis in 1847, a year before the publication of the novel written by ALEJANDRO DUMAS, JR, who called her character Marguerite Gautier.

DUPLESSIS had come to Paris from the French provinces at the age of 15, and started working as a hat maker’s assistance.  Her beauty, temperament, and love for life, however, raised her status to “courtesan” and she was kept in luxury by her rich and aristocratic Parisian lovers. DUMAS the illegitimate son of French writer Alejandro Dumas, who was of her same age, as Violetta, had a one year liaison with her which he ended  as follows: “Dear Marguerite, I am not rich enough to love you as I would wish, But not am I poor enough to let myself be loved as you envisaged.”

Because DUPLESSIS always appeared in public carrying a bouquet of Camellias and with a Camellia at her breast. DUMAS, called her “Dame of the Camellias.” in his novel. A few years later, based on his novel, DUMAS wrote a play that was was completed in l849 and produced in l852 at the THEATRE DE LA  VAUDEVILLE in Paris. In his play, he abandoned  the cruel realism of his novel, and presented  a more “realistic” heroine with many positive features.

As a composer, VERDI never approached contemporary moral problems in his librettos, but in l850 when working on LA TRAVIATA he wrote to a friend;  I am working at it with the greatest pleasure.” And, as we can see, the moralist composer,  made a “moral” work of the drama, by “focusing” his libretto in the ennobling love, of a good woman, that was destroyed  by the conventions of society.

As presented by Opera San José,  “LA TRAVIATA” was visual in its sets (ERIC FLATMO) aesthetic in its choreography,  (MICHELLE KLAERS D’ALO) Elegant in it costumes (ELIZABETH POINDEXTER) and majestic in its choirs (ANDREW WHITFIELD)

THE GYPSY CHOIR in the O.S.J. Production of LA TRAVIATA

Stage Director SHAWNA LUCEY, managed to have each singer representing their  roles with realism, and in spite that there was little “chemistry” between Alfredo (PATI) and Violetta (KINGSTON) both acted convincingly their love for each other. 

On their las afternoon presentation, PATI, who vocalized his Italian perfectly, sang each one of his arias with feeling in a pure fluid tone of voice, and if KINGSTON, whose pronounciation of Italian was not always understood, in a beautiful tone. The sound of her fluid coloratura passages more than compensated for her poor vocalization. 

Another marvelous tone of voice in the production was the one of Baritone MALCOLM MACKENZIE in the role of GIORGIO GERMOND, Alfredo’s father, who  played his role in a dignified manner and sang his arias in a deep resonat voice. In the secondary roles, Mezzo-Soprano CHRISTINA PEZZAROSSI  played her role of  Flora convincingly, and so did  Soprano ERIN O’MEALLY who played Violetta’s maid Annina,

We also need to mention Chorus master ANDREW WHITFIELD for the full and vital sound of all his well blended choruses included the one of the Gypsy singers. Well danced in this opera, was the Spanish dance, interpreted my TRISTEN MONTESINO and ALYSA REINHARDT.


An Opera San Jose season that included: COSI FAN TUTTE, LA RONDINE,  CINDERELLA, THE FLYING DUTCHMAN and  LA TRAVIATA,  may be considered one of the best Seasons ever presented by LARRY HANCOCK, OSJ General Director.