Vegas-style opera perfect choice for LGO production

Lake George Opera is going the “rat pack” route this season with its production of Verdi’s “La Travi

Moving an opera from its original time and place can be a tricky proposition.

You’re dammed if you do (by traditionalists) and dammed if you don’t (by experimentalists).

Lake George Opera is going the “rat pack” route this season with its production of Verdi’s “La Traviata,” taking it from Paris in the 1800s to Las Vegas in the 1960s. Good move. It was a perfect fit.

The ever-popular opera opened Saturday for four performances in the Spa Little Theatre. Directed by David Lefkowich, the production features soprano Elisabeth Andrews Roberts as the ill-fated courtesan, Violetta, tenor Marc Schreiner as her lover, Alfredo Germont, and bass-baritone Kelly Anderson as Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s over-protective father.

At the outset of the story, based on a play by Alexandre Dumas, Alfredo and Violetta fall in love at a lavish party. They move to a country home, where the elder Germont pays a visit to the heroine and convinces her to break off her romance with his son. The lovers are reconciled at the end, but Violetta dies of consumption as the opera comes to a close.

The Lake George Opera Orchestra, led by Mark D. Flint, started the dice rolling nicely with a sensitively performed overture as dealers set up their tables and elegant ladies strolled in. The chorus was wonderful throughout in terms of timing and voice.

As for the principals, this production boasts a truly talented cast headed by Roberts.

Her voice is a fabulous instrument that can split the rafters and send shivers down one’s spine in all of the big arias. And her acting is first rate. It’s hard to believe she was just an apprentice artist with the company just two summers ago.

And she is in very good company this time around. I can’t, in fact, remember better singing across the board from any Lake George cast.

Schreiner brings movie star good looks to the production along with a voice of great tenor quality and ample heft. He can finish off a big aria with a bang and he got the performance off to a solid start with the first act drinking song all about toasting beauty. His first act duet with Roberts was also a knockout.

While it comes with a big cast, “La Traviata” is really a three-singer show and Anderson rounded out the star trio perfectly. He has a booming, fatherly voice and his dramatic performance had just the right balance between firm determination and kindness.

The second act scene in which the father begs Violetta to sacrifice her love for the good of Alfredo’s family is one of the most moving encounters in all of opera and Roberts and Anderson played it perfectly.

It’s a secondary role, but Brian Shircliffe, an apprentice artist, made the most of his part playing the bad guy, Alfredo’s rival, Baron Douphol.

You have the feeling director David Lefkowich and the entire cast had a lot of fun putting the production together. This “La Traviata” comes with signs from the Nevada show town like the Hotel Apache, the Club Savoy and the Golden Nugget. There are poker tables, roulette wheels and, oh yes, even leggy showgirls.

You won’t miss Paris a bit.

“La Traviata”

WHERE: Lake George Opera, Spa Little Theatre, Saratoga Springs

WHEN: 2 p.m. Tuesday; 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 2 p.m. July 13

HOW MUCH: $80-$45

MORE INFO: 587-3330

Categories: Life and Arts

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