Opera Columbus’ immersive La Traviata will be performed at the hotel
If you’re an opera lover or even a casual spectator of classical music, you’ve probably seen productions of “La Traviata” in the old days.
You know the story: Giuseppe VerdiThe tragic 1853 opera centers on the tuberculosis-stricken courtesan Violetta Valery in 19th-century Paris.
It’s fair to assume, however, that you’ve never seen opera performed outside of a concert hall and inside a hotel.
For his last offer, Columbus Opera will play “La Traviata” in such a setting. An “immersive” production of the opera will be performed Friday through Sunday at the Residence Inn Columbus Downtown. Several groups of 20 spectators will pass through different areas of the hotel while an English translation of the opera will be performed in their midst.
How immersive opera works
The show is a joint venture of Opera Columbus and Opera out of the box in Minneapolis, who specializes in freeing opera from the confines of concert halls.
“In a traditional hall, there’s a separation between the audience and the stage,” said David Lefkowich, founding artistic director of Out of the Box Opera, which is leading the production in Columbus. (It was also recently played in Minneapolis.)
“When you have an immersive situation, suddenly the opera singers are next to you, or all around you: above, below,” Lefkowich said. “Expectations are turned upside down, and I think it just transforms the audience’s experience of watching it. Instead of being allowed to sit back, relax and let it go, the audience is then brought into the action , is part of the scene.
How the production was born
The new production of ‘La Traviata’ was born out of a conversation between Lefkowich and the managing director and CEO of Opera Columbus Julia Noulin-Merat.
“I said, ‘I want to do ‘La Traviata,'” Lefkowich said. “Let’s make the audience the guests at Violetta Valery’s party, and let the excitement and immersion start from there.”
The Residence Inn Columbus Downtown has been suggested for its remarkable architectural features as well as the fact that it is a home away from home for Opera Columbus: out-of-town singers stay here. always when they’re in Columbus for a show, Noulin-Merat said.
The concept may be unique, but Noulin-Merat said Opera Columbus has had success with recent productions at non-traditional venues, including last season at COSI and 400 West Rich. New audiences are expected as well as regulars.
“Our hardcore fans are also very excited,” said Noulin-Merat. “They’ve seen ‘Traviata’ 20 times, so they actually want to see an extra new layer.”
Put the audience in the production
The story of the opera will unfold in four spaces within the hotel: an event space, a bedroom, a meeting room and the back alley. Audience members follow the emotional line of Violetta’s story – literally walking alongside the singers as they move from space to space.
The role of Violetta will be shared between a trio of sopranos: Hanna Brammer will sing the role in act one, Bizhou Chang in act two and Meroe Adeeb Tchomobe in act three.
At the start of the opera, Violetta is seen throwing a party attended by friends – some of whom, of course, are ticket buyers, who will be much closer to the singers than at a normal concert.
A small ensemble of instrumentalists will also be on the move with singers and spectators.
“After the first scene is over, the orchestra splits into three groups,” Lefkowich said. “They go to the three different spaces that the public will go to visit.”
Lefkowich encouraged all provisional participants to embrace the experience.
“One of the Violettas addresses the audience and says, ‘Welcome to my party,'” he said. “We allow the public to participate in the drama.”
In the end, the idea is to integrate the audience into the opera.
“When you go to the theater, you’re 40 to 70 feet from the action,” Noulin-Merat said. “Whereas here, it’s literally happening under your nose.”
In one look
Opera Columbus will perform “La Traviata” at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 3 and 6 p.m. Sunday at the Residence Inn Columbus Downtown, 36 E. Gay St. Tickets are $60-$100. For more information, visit www.operacolumbus.org.