The Savannah Voice Festival is presenting one of the most popular and timeless love stories in opera, Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata," for two shows Aug. 22 and 25 at the Charles H. Morris Center.

 

La Traviata tells the tragic tale of Violetta Valéry, a gravely ill courtesan who abandons her exhausting life and moves to the country with her lover, Alfredo, but they are soon torn apart by class prejudices.

Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germont, convinces Violetta to sacrifice her love and return to her courtesan life, where she takes on a new lover, Baron Douphol.

A humiliated Alfredo, in a fit of jealousy, engages the Baron in a duel. Alfredo wins, but learns of Violetta’s sacrifice and impending death from his remorseful father. Alfredo has a beautiful, final reunion with Violetta before she finally dies.

The stellar cast includes Micaëla Oeste as Violetta, Santiago Ballerini as Alfredo, and Marco Nisticò as Germont.

“Germont is often seen as a villain, this guy who ruins this love story,” Nisticò says of his role. “At the same time, you can’t play a villain as a villain. He’s right; he has his reasons.

"Some people think he has a transformation at the end of the opera, that he is really moved by the generosity of Violetta, but I’m not totally convinced that that is the case. I think Germont can be moved by Violetta’s death because she is dying and no longer a problem. I have a cynical view on it.”

“La Traviata” is conducted by Jorge Parodi and directed by Fabrizio Melano, a veteran of the international opera scene who has directed 21 operas with the Metropolitan Opera since 1969. "La Traviata" will be staged in its traditional Parisian setting and promises to be gorgeous.

“You want to be modern in your approach. You want to be contemporary and relevant,” says Nisticò of Melano’s direction. “But you also want to be attached to the tradition and style. I think Fabrizio really knows how these operas were meant to be, so I am very happy that it is him directing.”

 

To this day, “La Traviata” remains on of the most performed operas in the world. It is popular not only with audiences, but also with the brilliant singers who perform it.

“I think it’s popular with performers because it’s amazing and very satisfying to sing,” explains Nistico. “Violetta is possibly one of the most challenging soprano roles .. .Most of my colleagues always love performing that opera.

“It’s a modern story in a way,” Nisticò continues. “In many societies, and even close to us in unexpected places, we see that class and social status are still important in love relationships, so I think it is relevant. It is a universal piece about love and how to deal with it in society. That’s why it’s been popular for all this time.”