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Indy Opera’s ‘La Traviata’: Young Singers, Old Roles

Why a familiar opera role is nothing like a pair of comfortable old shoes.

la traviata pic

Photo: Denis Ryan Kelly

A tense moment between Violetta and Alfredo from the Indianapolis Opera's 2002 production.

Event Information

La Traviata

music by Giuseppe Verdi, libretto by Francesco maria Piave, after La Dame aux camelias by Dumas fils


Clowes Hall

Fri 5/13 at 8 pm and Sun 5/15 at 2 pm, 2011

As the Indianapolis Opera presents Verdi’s La Traviata, the singers portraying Violetta the tragic lady of the camellias and her lover Alfredo, will both be reprising their first professional roles. Both say that revisiting an old role is not the ‘same old.’

Maureen O’Flynn’s first Violetta was in Texas. “It was a summer touring production that took us all over.” Tenor Scott Piper’s first Alfredo was in the much cooler clime of Wisconsin. Both have gone on to play the roles in this country and in Europe.

Doomed Heroines

Maureen O’Flynn’s role choices seem to lean heavily on doomed sopranos. They include Mimi in La Boheme, Marguerite in Faust and Juliette in Romeo and Juliette. “I was singing in a production of The Pearl Fishers in Spain and a friend/fan showed up at the theatre. Why I asked have you come all this way for this production. He told me that he just wanted to see me in an opera where I didn’t die.” However she does add that, “In plenty of pieces I’m still up and breathing during the last act.”

Troubled Romantic Leads

Scott Piper’s tenor roles have included romantic leads in La Boheme, Carmen and Tosca. But he’s especially pleased to say that he had a major recording in his old debut role. “I was in the Franco Zeffirelli production of La Traviata conducted by Placido Domingo. It’s something that I’m very proud of.”

The New Visit To Doom And Turmoil

Both the singers express affection for their roles. O’Flynn describes her own relation with the part of Violetta and one of growth. “Your life offers you new experiences, you change and the role changes a bit as well. It’s a very human thing.” Piper agrees and adds that although it’s an old role for him, “with Maureen, I’m looking into a new pair of eyes. That changes the piece. The changes are subtle, I mean it’s a role I know well, but they help make it fresh.”

George Walker

After completing an M.A.T. degree in English at Indiana University, George Walker began announcing for WFIU in 1967. Along with regularly hosting classical music shows, he interviews artists and reviews plays and operas.

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