Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric to present new production of La Traviata

For Immediate Release:
Monday, November 4, 2013

Lyric Opera of Chicago to present new production
of Giuseppe Verdi’s immortal romantic tragedy
La traviata
Opens Wednesday, November 20
10 performances through Dec. 20
Marina Rebeka, Joseph Calleja, Quinn Kelsey
Massimo Zanetti/conductor, Arin Arbus/director

What’s it like to be the most beautiful, most desired young woman who throws the wildest parties in all of Paris – and to be losing your life just as true love finally finds you? Welcome to the glittering, dark, hope-filled, doomed world of the Parisian demimonde, where the romantic tragedy of Verdi’s La traviata takes place.

 It’s one of the most popular operas of all time. La traviata tells the story of the crème-de-la-crème Parisian courtesan with a noble heart, the impetuous young man from the provinces who loves her, and how bourgeouis values and cruel fate conspire against them. 

Soprano Marina Rebeka (Lyric debut) portrays the ill-fated heroine, Violetta Valéry. Tenor Joseph Calleja is her lover, Alfredo Germont. And baritone Quinn Kelsey (a Ryan Opera center alumnus) is Alfredo’s father, Giorgio, whopersuades Violetta to give up her lover for the sake of his family’s respectability.

Massimo Zanetti returns to conduct Lyric’s new production, with director Arin Arbus, costume designer Cait O’Connor,  lighting designer Marcus Doshi, and choreographer Austin McCormick making their Lyric debuts. The set designer is Riccardo Hernandez, and the chorus master is Michael Black.

“Director Arin Arbus is a brilliant young American,” says Lyric Opera general director Anthony Freud, who engaged her previously at Houston Grand Opera for her operatic debut. “I think having the story interpreted by a female director is significant. It’s important to remember that La traviata was the first contemporary opera, conceived by Verdi and his librettist as taking place in the time of its audience, rather than in an earlier era. Arin’s theatrical background brings a new energy to it.”

Set in 1865, shortly after Verdi composed La traviata, the production abounds with color and texture – extravagant gowns, outlandish coiffures, party scenes that costume designer Cait O’Connor describes as “Victorian going for Baroque.”  Scenic elements include bulls’ heads, skeletons, Spanish lace, iridescent wings, colored paper lanterns – plenty to engage and intrigue the eye as well as the ear.

For tickets and information call (312) 332-2244 or go to

Lyric’s Discovery Series session on La traviata takes place on Tuesday, November 12, from 6 to 7 pm at the Civic Opera House and features a discussion with singers Marina Rebeka and Joseph Calleja, conductor Massimo Zanetti , director Arin Arbus, and Lyric Opera dramaturg Roger Pines. For information on this and other Discovery Series offerings go to .

The new Lyric Opera production of La traviata is generously made possible by the Julius Frankel Foundation in honor of Nelson D. Cornelius, Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson, Sylvia Neil and Daniel Fischel, and Helen and Sam Zell. It is a coproduction of Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, and Canadian Opera Company.