Some years ago, a promising musical talent, an Italian born Joe Green, saw a semi-racy play called Violetta. This story was set in Paris, and involved the love life of a prostitute. The story must have affected Green fiercely, because apparently he put in a good amount of time into this project.
The story line is simple, but appealing. Violetta is a young, gorgeous prostitute who is the toast of the town. Vivacious, engaging, she is the life of any party, especially one thrown by the upper crust.
Al is the son of a powerful, but conservative family. Of course, Al falls head over heels for Violetta, and against all odds, the two of them fall in love. Violetta changes her life and pledges herself to him. Al, a wet behind the ears, artistic type, had no real experience with love or sex, and pledges his life to hers.
As I said, Al's family is a bunch of Tea Baggers, conservative, christian, and aghast that sonnie boy was pallin' around with a whore.
Al's daddy secretly comes to visit Violetta, who pleads with him not to break up true love, but Daddums (offering a huge sum of money) insists that she break it off. Saddened, she finally agrees. Violetta succeeds that very evening, while promising that this break up would not only break her heart, but sear her very soul, and quite probably lead to her death. Violetta shows up at her old stomping grounds with a Royal in hand, and sure enough, Al shows up in search for her. The break up is terrible. Al's innocence, inexperience, and naivety all combine into an ugly scene. He literally throws Violetta to the ground and throws money at her. Violetta and her friends were all shocked, and her dismay and love are obvious.
Amazingly, Al's daddy witnesses the scene and gets totally pissed at his son.
One point I missed. With TB coming back throughout the world, Violetta had previously contracted an incurable version of it, and after she painfully agreed to Al's dad's demands, her condition worsens.
Al leaves for abroad, and finally his dad realizes that his ultra-conservative christian outlook on life was short-sighted, stupid, and counterproductive. If only more Tea Baggers could learn from him. Sigh.
Al's dad writes Violetta, begs her forgiveness, and contacts his son.
Paris in the the middle of Carnival. Al is missing, Al's dad, no where to be found. Poor Violetta is dying. Her friend and assistant finally comes up, breathless with great news. Al is on his way. Violetta says, "it is too late," until she sees him in the doorway. They embrace, and once again promise their undying love for one another.
Al's dad shows up, and again begs for forgiveness. He realizes that their love is true, beautiful, and total. Violetta dies in Al's arms. And the audience is in tears.
The show's current name is La Traviata, by Giuseppe Verdi, currently being produced and presented by the Chicago Lyric Opera.
The voices and talent on the stage is probably one of the best of the season.
The role of Violetta is filled by an incredible rising star in opera, Latvian Marina Rebeka, a gorgeous, almost stunningly beautiful soprano who makes world class sounds. Her beauty is perfect for the role, her acting is superb, convincing, and elicits tears, even in gray haired, curmudgeonly lawyers, and then there is her voice.
Her voice. her wonderful, exciting voice. Her beautiful voice. My god, what a voice. Incredible range, wonderful control, perfect pitch, and the emotion and strength she displays is awesome and jaw-dropping. I have never seen a Chicago audience stand and give so many ovations. (most run out immediately after the show, just to catch their train).
If you think you don't like opera, try this. Verdi's music is simply wonderful. The story line? a tear jerker. The songs? a lot of duets, and luckily Marina's unbelievable talent is perfectly matched by Al and Al's dad. Al is played perfectly by Joseph Calleja, his dad by Quinn Kelsey. Both are world class. These voices work so well together, that you realize just what Verdi was aiming for.
If you do like opera, these voices as so bloody good, that you must come to Chicago just to see this. Yes, I know that Verdi's treat is the most performed opera in the world. Yes, I know that at any season, at least 10 opera houses are planning on doing it. Yes, I have seen other performances that left you cold and thinking, yeah, ok, it was nice. Never in my 56 solar revolutions have I heard voices that were so perfect as I heard tonight.
What a wonderful performance. I feel lucky to hear Marina so early in her career. At 33, she has many years of success ahead of her. It is like watching Einstein work on special relativity, or Minnesota's Peterson run for 240 yards, or even like Rick Perry get through an entire speech correctly. She is that rare, and that brilliant of a talent.