Verdiâ€™s La Traviata returns to the Met with Angela Gheorghiu reprising her acclaimed interpretation of Violetta, a role the New York Times called a â€œsupercharged star turnâ€ when she performed it in 2006. Up-and-coming tenor James Valenti makes his Met debut as Alfredo, and Thomas Hampson returns to his celebrated portrayal of Germont, his first Met performance of the complete role since 2000. Leonard Slatkin conducts. For the final performance on April 24, Hei-Kyung Hong brings her touching portrayal of Violetta back to the Met stage. The production, which premiered in 1998, is by Franco Zeffirelli, who also designed the sets. Costumes are by Raimonda Gaetani, Duane Schuler is the lighting designer, and choreography is by Maria Benitez. Performances run through April 24.
About the Performers
Angela Gheorghiu brings her arresting portrayal of Violetta back to the Met, an interpretation of the tragic role that had the Associated Press declaring, â€œGheorghiu triumphs in Traviata.â€ The AP hailed the Romanian soprano for her â€œcaptivating performance that left some wet eyes in the audience as Violetta collapsed and died at the final curtain.â€ Gheorghiu most recently appeared on the Met stage as MimÃ¬ in La BohÃ¨me, stepping in at the last minute for an ailing Anna Netrebko. Last season, Gheorghiu performed the role of Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore to great acclaim, and also delivered a celebrated performance of Magda in Nicolas JoÃ«lâ€™s new production of Pucciniâ€™s La Rondine, seen worldwide as part of The Met: Live in HD series. Next season, Gheorghiu reprises her Juliette in RomÃ©o et Juliette, a role she last performed at the Met in 1998. Gheorghiu made her Met debut in 1993 as MimÃ¬ in La BohÃ¨me and has excelled in such mainstays of the Met repertory as MicaÃ«la in Carmen, Marguerite in Faust, LiÃ¹ in Turandot, and Amelia in Simon Boccanegra. In 2008, Gheorghiu, together with tenor Roberto Alagna and the Met Orchestra, gave a wildly popular free concert in Brooklynâ€™s Prospect Park before a crowd of thousands. Gheorghiu was also featured in the Metâ€™s landmark 125th Anniversary Gala on March 15, 2009, singing an aria from Faust and a duet from Simon Boccanegra, opposite PlÃ¡cido Domingo.
James Valenti makes his Met debut as Alfredo. In 2006, when the American tenor sang the role at the TheÃ¢tre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Le Soir called him, â€œthe revelation of the evening. The timbre of his voice is radiant, his projection natural, and his musicality omnipresent.â€ A 2002 Met National Council winner, Valenti has performed a range of lyric and bel canto roles with companies such as La Scala, New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, Hamburgâ€™s State Opera, and the Canadian Opera. Last season, Valenti won the Dallas Operaâ€™s Maria Callas Debut Artist of the Year Award. His other engagements this season include his debut with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, as Alfredo; an appearance as the Duke in Rigoletto at Maggio Musicale, Florence; as Rodolfo in La BohÃ¨me for the Minnesota Opera; and as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly for the Vancouver Opera.
Illustrious American baritone Thomas Hampson returns as Germont, a role he most recently performed opposite RenÃ©e Fleming and Joseph Calleja at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, where his delivery was saluted by the Independent for achieving â€œan agonizing intensity.â€ Last season, Hampson starred at the Met in the title role of Eugene Onegin and as AthanaÃ«l in John Coxâ€™s new production of ThaÃ¯s, seen worldwide as part of The Met: Live in HD series. Hampson, who made his Met debut in 1986 as Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, counts three additional great Verdi roles beyond Germont in his Met repertoire: Rodrigo in Don Carlo, the title role of Simon Boccanegra, and Don Carlo in Ernani. Hampsonâ€™s Met repertoire also includes the roles of Guglielmo in CosÃ¬ fan tutte, Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, the title role of Billy Budd, and Amfortas in Parsifal, as well as the title roles in the Met premiere of Doktor Faust (2001) and in Marthe Kellerâ€™s new production of Don Giovanni (2004). Hampson is the founder of the Hampsong Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the art of song. Hampson currently serves as the New York Philharmonicâ€™s first ever Artist-in-Residence.
Korean-American soprano Hei-Kyung Hong reprises the role of Violetta, which she last sang on the Met stage in 2007. Hong has performed a wide and varied repertoire at the Met, portraying Zerlina in Don Giovanni in the 1994-95 season, again in 2000 (including in the seasonâ€™s Opening Night gala), and in 2004 in Marthe Kellerâ€™s new production. Hong made her Met debut in 1984 as Servilia in La Clemenza di Tito and has also performed the roles of Barbarina, Susanna, and Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, Despina in CosÃ¬ fan tutte, Ilia in Idomeneo, and Pamina in Die ZauberflÃ¶te. Also at the Met, Hong has portrayed MimÃ¬ in La BohÃ¨me, LiÃ¹ in Turandot, Micaela in Carmen, the Celestial Voice in Don Carlo, and Eva in Die Meistersinger von NÃ¼rnberg.
Leonard Slatkin, who made his Met debut in the 1991-92 season with a new production of La Fanciulla del West and has since conducted Samson et Dalila, returns to the Met podium for the first time in 12 years. The American maestro is music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and principal guest conductor of both the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also served as music director of the Saint Louis Symphony (1979-1996) and is now the orchestraâ€™s conductor laureate; festival director of the Cleveland Orchestraâ€™s Blossom Festival (1990-99), chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (2000-2004), and principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl (2004-2007). Slatkin has been honored with the National Medal of Arts (2003) and Franceâ€™s Chevalier of the LÃ©gion d’honneur, among other awards.