La Traviata pic
La Traviata
Image: metopera.org

A native of Belgium with roots in France and a Southern California classical musical sphere, Kristof Van Grysperre guides Angels Vocal Art as artistic director. Over the years, Kristof Van Grysperre has conducted numerous acclaimed operas and he tackled Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata in 2015.

One of the definitive works of the 19th century Italian composer, La Traviata was controversial at the time of its debut for its humanistic portrayal of the courtesan Violetta. This theme presented itself at a time when Verdi and Giuseppina Strepponi, a renowned soprano, were engaged in a scandalous unmarried relationship. After taking in a theatrical performance of Alexandre Dumas’ La Dame aux camelias with his romantic partner, he decided that this story would be the basis of his next work.

The narrative, fictionalized from Dumas’ own affair with a high profile courtesan who died at the age of 23, resonated with Verdi. Reflecting the freshness of the story, he decided to pair music that was strikingly contemporary in its use of polka and waltz styles. An immediate success despite critical approbation, La Traviata endures in large part because of the way in which Verdi delved into the substance of a woman who many disparaged and found something in her that many could identify with.

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