Acclaimed French soprano Natalie Dessay makes her Met role debut as Violetta, the fallen woman who sacrifices her last chance for love, in Verdi’s La Traviata airing on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances at the Met Sunday, August 26 at 12 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). In New York, THIRTEEN will premiere the opera on the previous Thursday, August 23 at 9 p.m. with an encore presentation Sunday, August 26 at 12:30 p.m.
Watch a preview:
Matthew Polenzani co-stars as Alfredo Germont, a young man from a good family who is willing to risk everything for Violetta. Dmitri Hvorostovsky sings Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father, who disapproves of Violetta’s lifestyle, but is moved by her plight.
Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi leads Verdi’s romantic tragedy, one of the most beloved operas of all time, in Willy Decker’s highly theatrical production, a hit when it premiered at the Met in 2010.
In recent seasons, Dessay has sung the role at the Vienna State Opera, the Aix-en-Provence Festival, and the Santa Fe Opera. Her numerous Met appearances include four new production premieres: Juliette in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette (2005), the title roles in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor (2007) and La Fille du Régiment (2008), and the title role in Bellini’s La Sonnambula (2009). Next season, she will make her Met role debut as Cleopatra in a new production of Handel’s Giulio Cesare.
Polenzani sang Alfredo in the 2010 premiere of Decker’s production. He first sang the role at the Met in the 2007-08 season. His Met repertory includes numerous Mozart roles, as well as Ernesto in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, Roméo in Roméo et Juliette, David in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Fenton in Verdi’s Falstaff.
Giorgio Germont is one of six Verdi roles in Hvorostovsky’s Met repertory. In February, he sang his first performances of Don Carlo in Ernani, which aired recently on Great Performances at the Met; Met audiences have also heard him as the title character in Simon Boccanegra, Rodrigo in Don Carlo, Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera, and di Luna in Il Trovatore. He has sung the elder Germont, one of his most acclaimed interpretations, more than 20 times at the Met over the past decade. Next season, he stars in a new production of Un Ballo in Maschera and a revival of Don Carlo.
In addition to La Traviata, Luisi conducts the new production premiere of Massenet’s Manon (also airing this month on Great Performances at the Met) and three complete cycles of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. Earlier this season at the Met, he led the new production premieres of Wagner’s Siegfried and Götterdämmerung and Mozart’s Don Giovanni. He will lead next season’s new production of Un Ballo in Maschera, revivals of Verdi’s Aida and Berlioz’s Les Troyens, and three additional Ring cycles.
In April, Associated Press observed, “Dessay provided what this brilliant production so urgently requires — the star power of a singing actress whose magnetic personality and physical agility can involve us deeply in Violetta’s tragic struggle for happiness.”
La Traviata was originally seen live in movie theaters on April 14 as part of the groundbreaking The Met: Live in HD series, which transmits live performances to more than 1700 movie theaters and performing arts centers in 54 countries around the world.
Great Performances at the Met is a presentation of THIRTEEN for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. For nearly 50 years, WNET has been producing and broadcasting national and local arts programming to the New York community.
Soprano Deborah Voigt hosts the transmission. Gary Halvorson directs the telecast.
Great Performances is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, Irene Diamond Fund and the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation. Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®.
For the Met, Jay Saks is Music Producer, Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.