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Opera Verdi Europa coming to Morris

Observer Scene | Monday, April 4, 2005

A taste of opera and European culture will be coming to campus, thanks to NDPresents, the University-established group in charge of scheduling well-known artists and bands.

Opera Verdi Europa, an opera troupe out of Bulgaria, will be performing “La Traviata” tonight at the Morris Performing Arts Center in downtown South Bend. Opera Verdi Europa was created in 1996 by artist director Ivan Kyurkchiev and is now considered by many to be one of top opera groups in Europe and is now bringing their abundant talents to the United States.

The fact that famous opera singers such as Orlin Anastassov and Dario Volonte started their careers with Opera Verdi Europa is a testament to the consistent quality of the company. This will mark the second time Opera Verdi Europa has come to the Notre Dame campus, the first time being last year’s performance of “Le Boheme” at the Morris Center.

The group is well-known for performing opera in a style that many other companies cannot achieve. The group fuses the characteristics of several different cultures, namely blending the Bulgarian style with other European styles, creating a multicultural experience that is second to none. They have performed operas including “Othello,” “Madame Butterfly,” “Carmen” and “The Pearl Fishers” as well as productions of the Mozart and Verdi “Requiems.”

The three-act “La Traviata” was originally written by famed Italian composer Guiseppe Verdi. Verdi was born in 1813 as the son of an innkeeper and showed promise on the organ. Ironically, he was denied entrance to the Milan Conservatory because of “inadequate training.” In lieu of this, he studied with Lavigna of La Scala and wrote his first opera “Oberto, conte di San Bonifacio” in 1839.

Verdi was a huge admirer of Shakespeare and wrote several operas that were based on Shakespeare’s works, namely “Macbeth” and “Othello,” the later of which was the masterpiece of his later life. “La Traviata” was written in the middle of his career and secured his establishment as a major force in opera. Now Verdi is considered by many to be the foremost Italian composer of opera and is one of the most imitated and revered men in the opera culture.

“La Traviata” is based on a play by Alexander Dumas and is a tragic story of a beautiful courtesan and the sacrifices she makes for love. Originally, when the opera premiered at the Teatro la Fenice in Venice, Italy in 1853 it was not well received by its first audience. Believing that his opera was ultimately doomed for failure, a frantic Verdi wrote to a friend the following night, “La Traviata last night was a fiasco. Is it my fault or that of the singers? Only time will tell.”

However, “La Traviata” has withstood that test of time and is now considered to be one of the greatest operas ever created and is also one of the most often performed. The opera will be performed in its original Italian form with English supertitles. The main character of Alfredo Germont will be performed by tenor Rumen Shterionov, Violeta Valery will be performed by Yanitsa Nesheva and Flora Bervoix will be played by Silvia-Sorina Munteanu. The opera will be conducted by Nayden Todorov.

Admission to the performance ranges from $20 to $45. Tickets are available either by calling the Morris Center box office toll-free at 800-537-6415 or on the web at www.MorrisCenter.org.