Returning to Fox’s Martin Woldson Theater to close its 2022 season, the Inland Northwest Opera’s production of “La Traviata” took Giuseppe Verdi’s tragic tale forward nearly a century in Hollywood and into the late 1920s. Leaning into the aesthetic of Fox, art director Dan Wallace Miller chose to set the production in 1928.
A starlet on the verge of falling, Violetta Valery (Raquel Gonzalez) faces a sea of sneering faces, two-faced friends, and bloodthirsty audiences every night. Weakened by illness and existential angst, Violetta falls into the arms of Alfredo (Andrew Stenson), the son of a hard-hearted minister Germont (Troy Cook). A complete stranger to the world of Hollywood, Alfredo’s naivety and devotion persuade Violetta to leave it all behind and seize what she sees as her only chance at true love.
Gonzalez, Stenson and Cook gave stunning vocal performances throughout this show, quickly reminding me of how I fell in love with this opera.
The real highlight was the portrayal of Cook de Germont, Alfredo’s father.
Germont is still a difficult character, but this version was on another level. In other productions, he has redeeming qualities. You get the sense that Germont is quickly gaining some kind of respect for Violetta – that if only society were a little more tolerant, Germont would have allowed them to stay together. But here you know there was never a chance.
There were several moments during their interaction that speak volumes about who Germont is. The section during their duet where he says “cry, cry, unhappy girl” to her over and over; when she asks him to kiss her like her daughter for strength and he touches her shoulder, stoically, at arm’s length; when he takes his medicine with him when he leaves. In a few gestures, he recounts his life and announces the death of Violetta.
“La Traviata”, reviewed on Friday, will be replayed on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Fox. The show is sung in Italian with English surtitles. Inland Northwest Opera will host a pre-show discussion an hour before at Fox. All patrons are welcome. For tickets and information, visit https://inlandnwopera.com/.