Sempre Opera returns to Joburg Theatre with La Traviata (Verdi)
Sempre Opera will be staging one of the most popular operas of all time, the heart-breaking, yet beloved classic, Verdi’s La Traviata in June 2019. Based on the 1848 novel, The Lady of the Camellias, by Alexandre Dumas, the opera tells the story of the Parisian courtesan Violetta Valéry, one of opera’s greatest heroines, based on the real-life courtesan Marie Duplessis, who died in 1847 aged just 23. She has sworn off true love until Alfredo Germont walks into her life, loving her passionately. Her life takes a tragic turn when she risks all for a chance at enduring love with him when Alfredo’s father Giorgio, forces her to abandon his son, to protect his family’s reputation.
From the frenzy of Violetta’s pleasure-filled life to her heart-wrenching decision to leave her beloved, Verdi’s treasured opera is a captivating tribute to what it means to live and die for love and gives us one of opera’s most glorious heroines, a woman of boundless humanity and emotional depth. This tragic tale also is an important intertextual reference in the Greta Garbo film Camille and more recently Baz Lurhman’s musical film Moulin Rouge amongst others.
Cape Town based soprano Leah Gunter makes her company and Joburg Theatre debut as Violetta Valery, the worldly courtesan who has all the men of Paris at her feet. Leah is a well-accomplished soprano who has recently received her Masters of Music in Performance at the University of Cape Town. In June 2018, she participated in The Hong Kong International Operatic Singing Competition where she was invited by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa for a master class. Leah has received numerous nominations and accolades including a Fleur du Cap Theatre Award nominee in the category for the Best Performance – Female – in an opera for the role of Queen of the Night from Die Zauberflöte (Mozart) at the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town in 2017.
The role of Alfredo Germont will be sung by Johannesburg based tenor Yudi Cohen who was born in London and studied in the USA and Australia. In 2008 he graduated with a BTech in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria where he was the winning recipient of the Pretorium Trust Award and Absa Merit Award for the Most Outstanding Opera Student.
Well-known baritone, Danie Verster made his professional debut at the Natal Playhouse in 1986 when he sang the role of Giorgio Germont. This will his sixteenth production of La Traviata in the role of Alfredo’s father who demands that Violetta separates from his son, as their relationship threatens his daughter and Alfredo’s sister’s impending marriage. In 1989 he departed for Germany where he worked as a soloist at the Freiburg Stadt Theatre until his return to South Africa in 1996. With a Gesangspedagogische Diploma from the Freiburger Musik Hochschule at the Freiburg University in Germany, Danie has an impressive vocal repertoire which includes various opera roles and oratorio performances.
Pierre du Toit will be directing La Traviata. Pierre has been involved with cutting edge voice science technology and has been instrumental in the implementation of the Voce Vista computer-aided voice training system at the Tshwane University of Technology, a system consequently introduced at the Julliard School of Music in New York and at the most important training centres internationally. Pierre has directed and designed the sets, costumes and props for operas such as L’Elisire d’amore (Donizetti), Hansel und Gretel (Humperdinck), Don Giovanni (Mozart), Faust (Gounod), Falstaff (Verdi), La Cenerentola (Rossini), Cosi fan Tutte (Mozart) and Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart).
La Traviata (Verdi) will be fully staged and sung in Italian with English translations projected above the stage . The Capital Chamber Orchestra will be conducted by the talented and award-winning Schalk van der Merwe.
La Traviata (Verdi) will open on Saturday 22 June on The Mandela stage with performances on 23, 26, 28 and 30 June 2019. Shows are at 19h30 from 22 to 28 June, and at 15h00 on Sunday 30 June.