Arin Arbus, the director of La traviata, made her HGO debut directing The Rape of Lucretia in 2012. She is Associate Artistic Director at Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn, New York, where she directed The Skin of Our Teeth (Obie Award); repertory productions of Strindberg’s The Father and Ibsen’s A Doll’s House; and King Lear, Much Ado about Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, Measure for Measure, and Othello. Her production of La traviata has been seen at Canadian Opera Company and the Lyric Opera of Chicago, who co-produced it with HGO.
Below are the 3 things she wants you to know about La traviata.
The opera is a critique of the brutal and petty values that characterized the 19th century society in which Verdi lived. Alfredo and Violetta’s love is a rebellion against those values. That is why Arbus has set her production in that time period. Verdi had to set it earlier to escape censorship.
Athough Violetta is a successful courtesan and business woman for her time, her life is actually solitary and empty; she has no friends or family. That life has made her psychically as well as physically ill.
Violetta is NOT a victim, but a realist whose sacrifice of Alfredo’s love actually gains her a surrogate family who finally appreciate her for the person she is rather than judging the life she has led. (Sacrifice is the theme of our Seeking the Human Spirit operas this season.)