Shagimuratova worth the ticket to ‘La traviata’

L-R: Giorgio Berrugi/Alfredo, Mario Rojas/Gastone, Albina Shagimuratova/Violetta -- in La Traviata at Lyric Opera of Chicago. (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)
L-R: Giorgio Berrugi/Alfredo, Mario Rojas/Gastone, Albina Shagimuratova/Violetta — in La Traviata at Lyric Opera of Chicago. (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)

3 stars

Giuseppe Verdi’s music always gets four stars and played by the Lyric Opera orchestra conducted by Michael Christie, the popular La traviata, certainly is no exception.

The music and Francesco Maria Plave’s libretto  beautifully express the emotions of fun-loving, delightful, but doomed (think Camillia ) courtesan Violetta.

Gloriously sung by Russian soprano Albina Shagimuratova, her “È strano! … Ah, fors’ è lui…” (“Ah, perhaps he is the one”) and her famed, declared choice of freedom “Sempre libera” (“Always free”) are opera highlights. Just hearing her is worth the trip.

La traviata also has one of opera’s great drinking songs. Alfredo Germont, who loves Violetta toasts her with the crowd at her party in “libiamo ne’ lieti calici” (“Let’s drink from the joyful cups”).

Italian Giorgio Berruci making his Lyric debut as Alfredo, is OK, but he doesn’t have the full, soaring voice of other tenors who have played the role. However, as the opera ends and the lovers are reunited though Violetta is fading away, their  “Parigi, o cara, noi lasceremo,” (“We will leave Paris, O beloved”) and their “Gran Dio!…morir sì giovane” (“Great God!…to die so young”) are beautiful and touching.

Zeljkp Lucic (Giorgio Germont and Albina Shagimuratova (Violetta) in Lyric Opera's La traviata. (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)
Zeljkp Lucic (Giorgio Germont and Albina Shagimuratova (Violetta) in Lyric Opera’s La traviata. (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Serbian baritone Zeljko Lucic ‘s strong vocals are perfect for Alfredo’s status-conscious father Giorgio Germont who strongly disapproves of Violetta. And American mezzo-soprano Zoie Reams in her Lyric debut is just right as Violetta’s friend and Parisian hostess Flora Bervoix.

The opera is a co-production with Houston Grand Opera and the Canadian Opera Company which may explain the less than inspired set designs.  Shagimuratova can certainly hold her own on any stage with no scenery but La traviata is an opportunity to delight audiences with wonderful Parisian-style sets.

DETAILS: Giusippi Verdi’ La traviata is at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, 20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago, through March 22, 2019. Running time 2 hrs., 50 min. with two intermissions.. For tickets and other information visit Lyric Opera or Lyric Opera/La traviata.

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

 

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