Sunday, August 12, 2007

Violetta, You Slut

Er, courtesan, I mean.

We indulged ourselves today by going to an opera in Central City. It was La Traviata. More about that in a moment.

Interestingly, this is the 75th anniversary of the CC Opera House, and in their first season, in 1932, they did the play Camille, starring Lilian Gish, and based on the Dumas novel on which La Traviata is also based. Maybe that wasn't coincidence.

LT has always been one of my favorite operas. Is there anyone who doesn't like it? Anyone with a heart and a love of wonderful music, I mean? Heart-breaking soap opera! Heavenly melodies! Great ensemble pieces and duets and individual arias! What's not to love? Well, a bad performance would be not to love, of course. This, however, was an outstanding performance. The acting was excellent and the voices of the principals were stunning in both power and beauty.

I've seen other top-notch performances of LT, but this was the first live opera I've been to since I got my hearing aids. I expected to enjoy it more for that reason, but I didn't expect to be overcome, blown away, stunned, and add other over-the-topisms. I thought I loved opera before, but, wow, what I've been missing! From first note to last, I was in another world, more so than with any other musical performance of any kind that I can remember. There were moments when the music made me lightheaded and almost dreamily detached from reality. It hit my emotions in a surprising way, too. Why, sir, I tell you, sir, during the scene in which the elder Germont persuades Violetta to give up the love of Alfredo so that Alfredo's pure, virginal sister's young man won't reject her (TV soap opera, eat your heart out!), manly tears filled my manly eyes, sir, indeed, I swear it, sir, and some even spilled out and ran down my manly cheeks! In a manly fashion, of course. By Gadfrey, sir.

Oh, and the temperature up there was in the mid 70s, compared to low 90s in Denver. It rained quite a bit while we there. Come to think of it, always seems to rain when we go there, even when it's dry as a bone down here. I should add that we both love the rain, so that's not a dampener, ho, ho, but part of the delight of the escape.

And now I'm back in the real world.

7 comments:

alternatefish said...

I love love love La Traviata, but I've never yet seen it live. I once got into an argument with my father about whether a song was from LT or, um...La Boheme, I think. Anyway, I was right. I felt special. I out-opera-aficionado'd my father.

David said...

fish, what was the aria in question? I find it easy to get it wrong between two Puccini operas or two Verdi operas, but not between the two composers.

Marie Duplessis. That was the name of the real courtesan who was the basis for the Dumas novel. I can't remember if I've ever seen a portrait of her. She did die young, I believe. The program book had a couple of pictures of Lilian Gish from the 1932 performance, looking appropriately tragic and theatrical at the same time.

alternatefish said...

which song? um, not so good with names, and I've never seen it. It's near the end of act one, I think Alfredo's expressing his undying love to Violetta.

David said...

Ah, okay.

He does that a lot. :)

Travis Erwin said...

I went to Central City once as a kid. I think I was about nine or ten and I spent my money on a fake vintage newspaper replica that said, BARNYARD TRAVIS FARTS IN BAR, BEER GOES FLAT.

Glad to hear your visit held a bit more culture to it than mine. Isn't it a gambling town now?

David said...

Travis, yes, Central City and Blackhawk, right next to it, are both gambling towns now. They were far more picturesque before, but they were also pretty much dead. A small amount of tourist traffic barely kept them on life support.

CC was one of the first places I saw in Colorado, back when it was still just a dying tourist trap. I was imprisoned - I mean, living - in Houston at the time, and I thought CC was charming. That was in 1970 or 1971, so it was before your trip there.

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