“A garden party performance—private, intimate and delightfully decadent.” – Virginia Living Magazine

2019 Performance

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Saturday, June 15, 2019, 6:30 p.m.
413 Second Ave, Farmville, VA 23901

Tickets: $60 in advance, $70 at the door (includes supper and open bar)

Dress: Summer Semi-Formal

Electronic devices to stream English subtitles are welcome.

Please note: We must have an accurate list of our guests to comply with Virginia ABC laws. Consequently, we send invitations and request RSVPs, though we welcome anyone who would like to attend the opera. Please request to be added to the invitation list so we can provide you with up to date information!

Free Performance

Wednesday, June 12, 2019, 12 noon
Main Street Plaza, High Bridge Trail
North Main St, Farmville, VA 23901

Performers

Jan Cornelius

Violetta

soprano

Laurel Semerdjian

Flora

soprano

Ben LeClair

Dottore

bass

Joshua Alain Bouillon

Alfredo

tenor

Adam Caughey

Gaston

tenor

Kimberly Christie

Annina

soprano

Kevin Wetzel

Germont

baritone

Jason Buckwalter

Barone

baritone

Spencer Adamson

Marchese

baritone

Catrin Davies

Stage Director

Christopher Swanson

Music Director

About the Opera

Act I

At a lavish party at the salon of Violetta Valéry, the famous Parisian courtesan, the guests welcome one another. Flora Bervoix and the Marquis d’Obigny, friends of Violetta express their concerns that Violetta has been ill for the previous few months. Violetta assures them that she is fine and that the drug of pleasure will soothe her sufferings. Gastone de Letorières has brought Alfredo Germont to the party and formally introduces his friend to Violetta and the other guests, including the Baron Duophol, Violetta’s benefactor and lover.

Alfredo admits to have admired Violetta from afar and that he asked about her every day while she was sick. Violetta laughs off Alfredo’s genuine concern but then derides the Baron for not showing the same concern. As Violetta fills Alfredo’s wine glass, Gastone invites the Baron to give the toast. When he declines, Gastone asks Alfredo, who is at first shy, but when Violetta says it would give her pleasure, Alfredo is suddenly inspired to sing the Brindisi.

Duet and Chorus, “Brindisi”

Brindisi comes from the German phrase, “Ich bringe dir’s,” which means “I offer to you.” The German phrase was gradually modified to the shorter Italian word brindisi which is a toast among friends. Verdi’s “Brindisi” is by far the most famous but there are many others in the operatic repertoire. Alfredo begins the toast and Violetta sings the second verse. Eventually the whole party sings along with the couple. Raise your glass as we sing, and, if you know the tune, sing along!

At the close of the toast, Violetta suffers a fit of coughing. Her guests ask if she is not well and she sends them out to the other room for dancing. Violetta, thinking she is alone, sits to catch her breath. Alfredo has stayed behind to speak with Violetta. Alfredo asks if she can survive this lifestyle. He insists that if they were together, he would take care of her and protect her. Violetta tries to laugh these comments off but is really struck by Alfredo’s sincerity. She has never experienced real love nor has anyone ever spoken to her like this. She asks Alfredo how long he has loved her and he responds that he has loved her since he first saw her a year ago.

Duet: “Un dì felice”

Alfredo sings a gorgeous, lyrical melody, in which he recalls the day he first saw Violetta. Alfredo’s second phrase is a melody that will resurface several times throughout the rest of the opera. It will serve as a reminder of the kind of pure love that Alfredo offers to Violetta. This time, however, she pushes him away. Her music is in every way the opposite to Alfredo. Hers is fast, leaping, light-hearted; Alfredo’s is slow, steady and solemn melody.

Gastone accidentally interrupts the couple’s moment. Violetta asks Alfredo to leave, and he nobly obliges. This gallant act, once again, impresses Violetta. She hands Alfredo a flower and commands him to return when the flower has wilted. Overjoyed, Alfredo leaves Violetta’s salon.

Just then the other party guests, reenter the room and gather their belongings to go home. It is nearly dawn and they must get home to rest if they wish to come back out tomorrow night!

Finally alone, Violetta thinks back to her encounter with Alfredo. She wonders if serious love would be a misfortune in her life. She tries to put the idea of love out of her heart but somehow she keeps going back to it.

Aria: “Ah, forse lui…. Sempre libera”

This show-stopping aria is a two-part aria form known as a cavatina-cabeletta. In this first part, the slow and lyrical “cavatina,” Violetta considers that Alfredo may be the one for which she has been waiting. In the following “cabaletta,” the fast tempo and acrobatic coloratura reflect Violetta’s spirit that she wishes to keep free. At the height of her emotion, we hear Alfredo from far off singing “Amor è palpito dell’universo,” the same melody as in the previous duet. Violetta cannot help but be distracted by Alfredo’s passionate voice, but she perseveres to push Alfredo from her mind.

Act II, scene 1

Aria: “Lungi da lei…. De’ miei bollenti spirit”

As the second at begins, we learn through Alfredo’s aria that he and Violetta have been living in an idyllic country home outside of Paris for the last three months. She has given up parties and riches for a life of love and bliss and Alfredo is living in heaven. The pulsating accompaniment throughout the aria expresses the tenor’s passion for Violetta.

Annina, Violetta’s maid, enters the room and tells Alfredo that she’s been in Paris to sell her lady’s possessions. Alfredo asks Annina not to tell Violetta about their conversation as he suddenly grasps that Violetta has really sacrificed everything to make their happy life a reality. He rushes off to somehow put things right.

Moments after Alfredo leaves, Violetta enters the room. Annina reports to her that Alfredo has left for Paris for the rest of the day. A servant enters with a letter to Violetta from Flora in Paris inviting her to a party that night. Violette has no intention of going. Just then the servant brings in another visitor. Violetta has been expecting a man of business to assist with her affairs, but to her surprise, the visitor introduces himself as Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father.

He has come to confront Violetta: Germont believes that his son has spent all of his money on Violetta. She assures him that nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, she tells him, she has used her own money to pay for their life and she shows Germont the deed of the house to prove it.

Duet: “Pura siccome un angelo”

In this lengthy and emotional duet, Germont then compels Violetta to think not of Alfredo, but of his sister. Germont’s daughter, “pure as an angel,” is engaged, but the fiancée will call off the wedding if Alfredo does not end his relationship with the courtesan. The father asks Violetta to do the hardest thing: Violetta must leave Alfredo.  Violetta resists, but ultimately has pity upon the young daughter, pure and beautiful, and assures that she will leave Alfredo. Germont leaves having accomplished his goal, yet surprised at Violetta’s mercy and generosity.

As soon as Germont leaves, Violetta writes a letter to Flora and gives it to Annina. She writes a second letter to Alfredo but is interrupted by Alfredo. He is agitated because he has heard that his father will be visiting the house but assures Violetta that his father will love her. Violetta panics, as she doesn’t want Germont to see her still in the house with Alfredo. With tears in her eyes she proclaims her love to Alfredo once more and leaves.

Alfredo is alone and confused. A few minutes later a messenger enters with Violetta’s letter for Alfredo. He reads the first few words, “Dear Alfredo, by the time you receive this letter…” and he knows that Violetta has left him. At that very moment his father enters the house again.

Aria: “Di Provenza il mar”

Germont’s strophic aria attempts to appeal to his son’s longing for home. It’s flowing phrases and memorable melody may be reminiscent of the music they once sang at home.

Alfredo is too lost in his despair to hear his father’s words. Alfredo spies the invitation to Flora’s party on the desk and flies into a rage.

Act II, scene 2

Just a few hours later, at a party at Flora’s salon in Paris, we see Flora, the Marquis and Dr. Grenvil enjoying the festivities. She tells them that Violetta and Alfredo may come. News travels fast in Paris: the Marquis already knows that Violetta and Alfredo have split up and he has heard that Violetta will attend the party with the Baron. Flora and the Doctor are shocked. Their conversation is interrupted by the evening’s entertainment.

Chorus: “Noi siamo Zingarella”

The women at the party sing a gypsy chorus and read Flora and Marquis’ palms. They proclaim that Flora may have many rivals and that the Marquis is an unfaithful lover. This causes a small tiff between the two, but in the end they all agree to look to the future and enjoy themselves.

Aria and Chorus: “Di Madride noi siam mattadori”

The men follow with a passionate song about a Spanish matador who conquers five bulls in a single match to prove his love to a young Andalusian beauty. The song is lead by the dashing Gastone.

The stirring chorus ends, and to everyone’s astonishment, Alfredo enters the salon. When Flora asks him about Violetta he only replies, “Who knows!” The crowd is impressed with his laissez faire attitude and they all begin gambling. Just then Violetta enters the salon on the Baron’s arm. He sees Alfredo and warns Violetta not to speak to him. As the party whirls around her, Violetta regrets having accepted the invitation. Alfredo sits at the gambling table and his luck seems to be without end as he wins each hand. He begins boasting and speaking loudly about Violetta, but the people around him warn him not to go too far. The Baron joins Alfredo at the table thinking he can best the young man. Alfredo’s luck continues and he wins several hands against the Baron. Tensions begin to rise between the two rivals and Violetta feels the stress of the evening crushing her. Dinner is announced and everyone exits to eat.

Violetta rushes back into the salon followed by Alfredo. She has called him in to warn him that Baron is dangerous and will hurt or kill Alfredo. Alfredo welcomes the threat and mocks her saying that he may kill the Baron which will cause her to lose her lover and her keeper. She begs Alfredo to leave, and he says he will if she comes with him. Alfredo wonders who has made her speak like this. Violetta replies that it was one who has every right. She means Alfredo’s father, of course, but Alfredo guesses that it is the Baron. She cries “Yes!” and that she loves him. Wildly, Alfredo calls for all of the guests to come back into the salon.

Alfredo tells everyone that Violetta has spent all of her money to keep him happy, and that he has naïvely played along. Now, he tells them all, he knows the truth and wants to pay back the debt. To everyone’s horror, Alfredo throws his earnings from the gambling table at Violetta’s feet.  The crowd shouts at Alfredo that has gone too far.

Final chorus: “Di sprezzo degno”

Giorgio Germont enters the salon just in time to see Alfredo’s heinous act. The room is silent as the father addresses his pitiful son. As the chorus continues, each character inwardly expresses their thoughts, each with a singular musical identity. Alfredo realizes he has made a huge mistake; Germont regrets that only he cannot tell anyone the truth; the Baron’s hatred for Alfredo boils over; and everyone else feels utter sympathy for Violetta. Violetta, in her turn sings that one day she hopes Alfredo will understand that she will love him always, even after death. All of these varying emotions wind together to creating a perfect musical tapestry.

Act III

Several months later, Violetta sleeps peacefully in her bedroom with Annina at her side. The symptoms of consumption have caught up with Violetta, and she is close to Death’s door. She stirs and asks Annina for water. Dr. Grenvil arrives to visit his sick friend offering positive thoughts. He tells Annina as he leaves, however, that Violetta may only have a few hours left. Violetta hears noise coming from outside and Annina tells her that it is carnival season in Paris and the streets are full of parties. Violetta is pleased that people can enjoy themselves while so many others suffer. Annina gives Violetta a letter from Germont and then sends her off to give the last of her money to the poor. In the letter, Germont says that he has revealed her sacrifice to Alfredo and that both he and his son will come to see her. These are happy words, but Violetta knows it is too late.

Aria: “Addio del passato”

Alone, Violetta muses how her life has changed so much to such a short time. This painfully beautiful aria is the polar opposite of Violetta’s first act aria: is it soft and slow with a more moderate range. This may reflect Violetta’s weakened physical state, but this music may also represent the real Violetta.

Chorus: “Largo al quadrupede sir della festa”

A crowd of partiers on the street sings a raucous hymn for the fatted calf that will be slaughtered for the festival.

Annina runs into the bedroom with news that Alfredo has arrived: she can hardly contain her excitement. Alfredo bursts through the door and falls to his knees begging for Violetta to forgive him.

Duet: “Parigi, o cara, noi lascieremo”

In this most tender of love duets, Alfredo proposes that they should leave Paris together to live out their days in the country. There they will be happy and her health will be restored. Unlike the duet in the first act, Violetta replies to Alfredo with exactly the same words and melody, to which Alfredo sweetly harmonizes.

Although she feels her spirits brighten, Violetta’s face is pale, and Alfredo sees it. She insists that she’ll be fine and attempts to dress so the two of them can go to church. Alfredo tries to stop her but she pushes on until she is finally overcome with weakness. He sends Annina to bring back the doctor.

Duet: “Ah, gran Dio, morir si giovine”

Violetta cries out to God how unfair it is that she would die so young, Alfredo in a similarly passionate tone begs for her to stay with him always.

Germont enters the solemn room and is surprised to see how ill Violetta is and regrets how he treated her in the past. Violetta now seems to walk confidently to her end and comforts Alfredo and his father. He gives Alfredo a portrait of her to remember her by. Suddenly, Violetta declares that her pain and spasms are gone and that her strength has returned to her. She feels herself coming back to life. Could this be her reward for a life so full of pain?

Sponsors

Navona and David Hart

Jackie and Chris Sadler

Michelle and John Kona

In-Kind

Cynthia Wood
Aramark
The Fishin’ Pig
Green Front Furniture/Den and Dickie Cralle
Letterpress Communications

Board Members

Harlan Horton, President
Christopher Swanson, Vice-President and Music Director
Kevin Wetzel, Director of Artistic Activities
Kerry Mossler
Julie Ross, Treasurer
Rob Wade
Kirsten Huber

2018
Rossini’s The Barber of Seville
2017
Gounod’s Faust
2016
Puccini’s La Boheme
2015
Donizetti’s L’Elisir D’Amore

Previous Performers

Jason Buckwalter, baritone 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Lisa Edwards-Burrs, soprano 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
Adam Caughey, tenor 2012
Jennifer Capaldo, mezzo-soprano 2010, 2011
Kim Christie, soprano 2017, 2018
Fran Coleman, soprano 2014, 2015
Jan Cornelius, soprano 2010, 2016
Catrin Davies, mezzo-soprano 2017
Jared Dawdy, baritone (understudy) 2013, 2015
Kevin Doherty, baritone 2011, 2012, 2014
Kyle Ferrill, baritone 2013
Lexa Ferrill, mezzo-soprano 2013
Sarah Fitch, mezzo-soprano 2012, 2014
James Harrington, bass 2018
Michael Kuhn, tenor 2018
Ben Leclair, bass 2016, 2017
Scott MacLeod, baritone 2010, 2013
Lisa Lockhart, soprano 2012
Bill McMurray, baritone

2011, 2014, 2015, 2018

Brandon Morales, bass-baritone

2018

Megan Roth, mezzo-soprano 2018
Chris Swanson, tenor 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 (conductor)
Kevin Wetzel, tenor 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017
Jordan Wiley, actor/tenor 2014, 2015
Erin Wind, mezzo-soprano 2011
Katy Wolfe Zahn, mezzo-soprano 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Lisa Kinzer, pianist 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
Pam McDermott, chorus master 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
Catrin Davies, stage director 2017, 2018
Kevin Wetzel, assistant 2017, 2018

Contact Us

General Inquiries
Harlan Horton
(434) 391-1014
hlhesq@kinex.net

 

Music and Performance Inquiries
Chris Swanson
(434) 414-6674
swansoncl@longwood.edu

 

Checks mailed to
Summer Garden Opera, c/o Julie Ross
600 Buffalo Street, Farmville, VA, 23901
or you may pay at the door