I was fortunate to be among the first 600 people to enjoy a fully staged opera on the Outer Banks of North Carolina: La Traviata.
Three charitable foundations got together to make a professional production possible in the swank community auditorium that was built in 2004 as part of the First Flight High School, adjacent to the Kitty Hawk Monument/Airport.
Local hero Tshombe Selby was a powerful Alfredo. It’s easy to see why he was picked up for the Metropolitan Opera chorus. Wayne Line brought a truly huge baritone to the role of Alfredo’s dad.
The women were equally good: Sarah Joyce Cooper in the title role of Violetta and Caroline Tye as her good-time girlfriend Flora.
One of the fun parts of the program was finding that the conductor’s name is also “Violetta”: Violetta Zabbi. Her parents back in Communist Odessa watched Teresa Stratas in the Zeffirelli movie and were inspired.
As with a recent La Boheme (see below), it was nice to see opera in a smaller venue, bringing the form back to its roots in 17th century Italy. The 3,800-seat Metropolitan Opera House would be great if not for the existence of video cameras. Given the existence of video, however, why would anyone want to see a live opera from seats that are so far away that binoculars are required?
The smaller venues give younger performers a chance to grow and develop. Cole Tornberg, Gennaidi Vystoskiy, and Erik Tofte were able to shine as Gastone, Doctor Grenvil, and the Marquis D’Obigny. Debra Kasten was appropriately discreet as the courtesan’s maid Annina. John Adams, in black tie with cane, was convincing as “Baron Douphol, the man who has been supporting Violetta.”
Sets were simple, but effective. The audience was never in doubt as to where the characters were.