Once again, Anchorage Opera captivates and delights, this time closing its 61st season with “La Traviata,” Giuseppe Verdi’s immortal masterpiece and timeless opera that continues to captivate audiences worldwide with its poignant tale of love, sacrifice, and societal judgment. Originally set in mid-19th century Paris, and adaptively transported into the glitzy and glamorous Gatsby-era Roaring 20’s, the opera follows the tragic story of Violetta, a courtesan, and Alfredo, a young bourgeois. Their passionate love affair encounters numerous obstacles, including societal expectations, illness, and misunderstandings, ultimately leading to heartbreak and redemption.

Acclaimed Stage Director Laura Alley’s incredible take on Verdi’s masterful composition weaves together melodic richness and emotional depth, creating a tapestry of human experience that resonates across generations. From the exuberant champagne-fueled revelry of the first act to the tender intimacy of Violetta’s final moments, the music and color transports audiences into the tumultuous world of the characters, stirring empathy and reflection.

At its core, “La Traviata” delivers a timeless lesson on the complexities of love and the consequences of societal judgment. The relationship between Violetta and Alfredo defies convention, challenging the rigid social norms of their time. Their struggle against societal expectations highlights the enduring tension between personal desires and external pressures, a theme as relevant today as it was in the 19th century.

Anchorage Opera General Director Ben Robinson’s incredible eye for talent brings an exquisite combination of new and familiar names to the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. Soprano Andrea Baker is quite likely breaking out right here and right now in what has been called her star-turn role. This is both her Anchorage Opera debut and her specific role debut as Violetta, a courtesan who must make the difficult choice between a sparkling life of luxury and lavish pleasure, or a life with her new love, Alfredo. Without question, Baker nails it. Her voice shimmers and shines as bright as the jewels bedazzling the women and costumes of the era, and it grips the heart of the audience as she brings her character to life and takes them through Violetta’s journey of love, pain, tragedy and redemption.

Violetta’s selfless sacrifice for Alfredo’s happiness, despite the personal cost, speaks to the power of love to transcend selfishness and inspire nobility of spirit. Her journey from a life of superficial indulgence to one of profound love and sacrifice serves as a poignant reminder of the transformative potential inherent in human relationships.

Tenor Peter Drackley, a returning artist and fan-favorite in Anchorage, delivers a powerful and soul-squeezing performance as Violetta’s lover, Alfredo. His voice carries to the back of the balcony and frames a brilliant command performance on stage as he wins the love and heart of Violetta through a soaring and tender performance that moves even the most stoic to tears.

“La Traviata” prompts reflection on the consequences of judgment and societal hypocrisy. The characters grapple with the harsh judgment of society, which condemns Violetta for her past while hypocritically indulging in the same pleasures she once enjoyed. This hypocrisy serves as a cautionary tale, urging audiences to examine their own prejudices and the impact of societal norms on individual lives.

Baritone Dennis Jesse, who plays Alfredo’s loving yet judgmental father, Germont, makes his Anchorage Opera debut as well. Germont’s interference leads to heartbreak, followed by forgiveness and redemption. Jesse’s incredible poise and stage presence brings balance to the complex role of a father whose love for his son is clouded by his rigid ideals. In the end, however, his strength and wisdom allow him to see his folly and embrace Violetta in a passionate delivery of guilt-ridden acknowledgment.

Bass-Baritone Isaiah Musik-Ayala, who is also making his Anchorage Opera debut, portrays the Barone, intimidating patron of Violetta and rival of Alfredo. Musik-Ayala’s deep and compelling voice rattles the seat backs in the orchestra as he fights to keep Violetta all to himself.

Audiences will see the cast rounded out by familiar local talent in both principal and chorus roles, including Lisa Willis who lights up the stage as charming socialite Flora; Phil Cheasebro as Flora’s devoted Marquese (and a very convincing bull); Luke Honeck as faithful friend Gastone, who instigates the lovers’ meeting; Kimberly Hayes as Annina, Violetta’s maid who remains loyal and devoted to the end; and Kyle Gantz, the concerned doctor who sadly does not have a cure. The marvelous all-local chorus embraces the debauchery of the time as the rhinestones sparkle and champagne flows like there’s no tomorrow.

Alongside General Director Ben Robinson and Stage Director Laura Alley, esteemed Principal Conductor Brian Demaris and his orchestra once again deliver a performance for the ages. Under the stage management of the always excellent Helen Irene Muller, a fabulous cast and crew has once again created a truly splendid and world class operatic showpiece. The beauty of Anchorage Opera, of course, is that while maintaining such excellence, it also provides a welcoming space for both local talent and traveling artists to create a magnificent experience. Our heroine with a heart of gold may indeed succumb to mortal demise resulting from her own consumption, but with “La Traviata” we see that in an era marked by rapid social change and shifting moral landscapes, this story remains as relevant as ever, inviting audiences to contemplate the enduring truths of human experience. The story’s timeless message of love, sacrifice, and the struggle against societal judgment continues to resonate, reminding us of the profound power of compassion, forgiveness, and empathy in navigating the complexities of the human heart.

Toi toi toi!

Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the magic of live opera in the heart of Alaska! Tickets are on sale now and can be obtained through CenterTix.com or by calling 907-263-ARTS (907-263-2787).

Ahsan Awan has been covering opera, performance arts and live events for nearly two decades, and has been covering Anchorage Opera, since the 2022-2023 season. Images taken by Ahsan Awan for Anchorage Opera and ©2024 American Presswire. Editorial use by Anchorage Opera with permission and subject to unrestricted use under license unless otherwise noted. Ahsan Awan can be found on X as @quackarazzi and on Instagram as @quackarazzi. American Presswire can be found on X as @ampresswire and on Instagram as @ampresswire.