Last Friday, Sackville was treated to a rare event: a staged production of Verdi’s La Traviata performed by Jeunesses musicales. Despite cuts to its plot, the romantic tragedy retained its magic by virtue of the actors’ stellar performances.
La Traviata tells the story of Violetta Valery (played by Cristina Pisani), a hedonistic social butterfly who gives up a life of luxury to be with the charming Alfredo Germont (Marcel d’Entremont). Familiar with Violetta’s reputation as a former gold-digger, Alfredo’s father (Sebastian Haboczki) forces her to leave his son for the sake of his family’s reputation. Angry and ashamed, Alfredo publicly shames Violetta, causing her to lose all hope of being reunited with her true love. After months of separation, Alfredo learns the truth about the reasons for Violetta’s abandonment and returns to her, only to lose her to a consumptive disease at the moment of their reunion.
In addition to having stunning vocal prowess, the leading duo effectively communicated the touching and tragic love story through tender and intimate acting.
The sparse and flexible set design made the most of the limited space in Brunton auditorium, with modern props and costume designs. However, because the production was shortened from three acts to two, many roles were omitted, including the entire chorus.
The cuts did not heavily affect the plot, with the exception of those made to Act II. The limited casting resulted in omission of two characters: Violetta and Alfredo’s maid and Violetta’s former lover, Baron Douphol.
The maid is a significant character, given that she reveals to Alfredo that Violetta has been selling all her former possessions to fund her life with him, to which he takes offence. In the following party scene, Alfredo repays Violetta by throwing his money at her face for “services rendered.” Without the Baron’s presence during the party scene, and without the explanation of Alfredo’s debt to Violetta, Alfredo’s anger comes off as unreasonable.
Despite these narrative cuts, the performers certainly did justice to the beauty and drama of Verdi’s magical music. Although there are no more operas on the horizon this year, the musical community of Sackville can look forward to a busy weekend, with performances by the Mount Allison Chamber Orchestra on Thursday night, the Mt. A Symphonic Band (with the Third Field Regiment Band) on Friday night, the Tesla Quartet on Saturday night, and the Choral Society (with the Mt. A Brass Quintet) on Sunday afternoon.