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The Original Gossip Girls

lrg-429-trv4169In high school, relationships can feel incredibly passionate, melodramatic, and life changing.  Hello Gossip Girl!  The dramas innate in dating someone else whose hormones are just as out of whack as yours can feel serious and potentially catastrophic.  To all the high schoolers out there who think that grownups just don’t understand – Giuseppe Verdi is your man.  One of the grand authors of melodrama in love, Verdi’s La Traviata, being performed by LA Opera through June 21, is practically an ode to the death-defying nature of falling in and out of love.

Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge might serve as a modern-day counterpart to Verdi’s La Traviata as it revolves around a beautiful courtesan with a heart, Violetta, who falls in love with a penniless sitar player.  Okay, so he’s not a sitar player; in La Traviata the love interest is Alfredo, a penniless young nobleman.  When he tells her he loves her, she retorts that she’s not the type of woman he should fall truly in love with.  As she sings those words, however, she feels a stirring in her own heart and ponders if perhaps he’s really the one.

She experiments with true love by shacking up with Alfredo in the second act.  Their love blooms, yet he feels ashamed that she is forced to sell her personal belongings to fund their life together.  A dying courtesan can’t just fall in love, however, and the conflict arrives in the form of Alfredo’s father who is grieving his daughter’s inability to secure an advantageous marriage due to his son’s scandalous affair with a courtesan.

This production is not a new one for LA Opera as Marta Domingo returns to direct the version she staged for LA Opera’s 2006/2007 season.  La Traviata is one of the most performed operas around the world and will close LA Opera’s 2008/2009 season with a bang.  Clearly, courtesans from France, Italy, and beyond have made a lasting impression on us.  They were sexually confident, educated, well dressed, and influential women who were smart enough to use what they had to their advantage.  They were loved, hated, envied, and gossiped about in their time… and still are in ours.

LA Opera’s production of La Traviata runs now through June 21 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Music Center.  For more information, please visit their website or call (213) 972-8001.

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