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August 24, 2010 > Love and Betrayal to begin Friday

Love and Betrayal to begin Friday

By Eman Isadiar

Photo courtesy of Fremont Opera

Opera fans prepare for a potent dose of forbidden love and tragedy as Fremont Opera's eagerly anticipated third production - Verdi's masterpiece "La Traviata" - opens on Friday, August 27 at 8 p.m. at the Smith Center of Ohlone College, followed by a 2 p.m. matinee performance on Sunday, August 29.

Two rising opera stars, soprano Danielle Talamantes and tenor Benjamin Bunsold, in a cast of such distinguished artists as Scott Bearden, Igor Vieira and Brian Thorsett, sing the leading roles of Violetta and Alfredo. Stage director Jonathan Field and chorus master James Richard Frieman join forces with artistic director David Sloss in what promises to be yet another unforgettable production by Fremont Opera.

The opera's title, which can be loosely translated as "The Fallen Woman," refers to a famed Parisian courtesan, Violetta Valery, who captures the heart of a certain nobleman named Alfredo Germont. The two fall passionately in love and begin a life together in Violetta's country villa. Violetta abandons her former life - which has severe financial consequences unbeknownst to Alfredo - and becomes a faithful companion while trying to maintain a lavish lifestyle for both of them. She is also secretly battling tuberculosis.

Alfredo's father pays a surprise visit to Violetta and convinces her to leave his son because her reputation as a courtesan has lowered his family's social status and has even jeopardized his daughter's engagement to nobility. Heartbroken, Violetta feels compelled to make this ultimate sacrifice, but does so with a dash of cruelty so Alfredo will no longer love her and is able to fall in love with a more deserving woman. Alfredo must also remain unaware that his own father has caused the break-up.

The pain of separation is unbearable for both Violetta and Alfredo. She returns to her former wealthy lover while her health continues to deteriorate. However, she comes face-to-face with Alfredo once again at a party in the story's climactic scene, and is arguably the most powerful operatic moment of all time.

In the third and final act, Alfredo finally discovers the truth as Violetta succumbs to the illness and dies in his arms.

About the Artists

Danielle Talamantes (Violetta) makes her Fremont Opera debut in "La Traviata" after winning first prize in the 2010 Irene Dalis Vocal Competition. In the spring of 2011, she will be covering roles at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She has appeared in many productions throughout the United States and won numerous prestigious awards including Concurso de Trujillo, Liederkranz Competition and the International Lotte Lehman Cybersing and Vocal Arts Society Competitions. She has also appeared in recital at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall as the winner of the National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Awards.

Benjamin Bunsold (Alfredo) has appeared this season with Opera Columbus, St. Petersburg Opera, and Opera Idaho. He has performed for companies throughout the country, including Opera Delaware, Shreveport Opera, New Opera St. Louis, and Memphis Opera. He has been in resident artist and apprentice programs at Glimmerglass Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Fort Worth Opera, and Tampa Opera.

Jonathon Field has directed over ninety productions throughout the United States for Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera's Western Opera Theatre and Seattle Opera. Over the past ten years, he has directed ten productions for Arizona Opera, and has been hailed as "their most perceptive stage director." Mr. Field introduced computer-generated scenery to opera production in "Candide," and has pioneered the use of video-projected scenery in productions of "The Tales of Hoffmann" and "Der Freischutz." As artistic director of Lyric Opera Cleveland, Mr. Field staged a production of "Don Giovanni" that was nominated for the Northern Ohio Live Award of Achievement. Other notable productions at Lyric Opera Cleveland have included a unique "Cosi fan tutte" in which the audience votes to choose one of three alternative endings.

David Sloss, artistic director of Fremont Opera, conducted the Fremont Opera productions of "La Boheme" and "The Barber of Seville." Since 1980, he has been music director and conductor of the Fremont Symphony, which also serves as the orchestra for Fremont Opera. He has conducted operas for Pacific Repertory Opera, Berkeley Opera, the Lamplighters, the San Francisco Talent Bank, and the Oakland Symphony. He was Professor of Music at Sonoma State University and has worked as a producer and director for WGBH-TV in Boston, where he received an Emmy nomination for the National Educational Television series "A Roomful of Music." He holds degrees in music from Harvard College and Stanford University.

Fremont Opera performs Verdi's "La Traviata"
Friday, August 27
8 p.m.
Sunday, August 29
2 p.m.
The Smith Center for the Performing Arts
Ohlone College
43600 Mission Blvd., Fremont
(510) 474-1004
Tickets $46-$50

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