One of the world’s most beloved (and tragic) love stories is coming to Tucson when Arizona Opera performs “La traviata” next month at the Tucson Music Hall, and a group of opera lovers have arranged a special preview event in Oro Valley.
Hosted by the Opera Guild of Southern Arizona, La traviata—Highlighting the Life & Music of the Composer Giuseppe Verdi, will include an introduction to the Italian composer, background on mid 19th century Paris and an act-by-act synopsis of the tale accompanied by a collection of local singers and a pianist performing some of the opera’s highlights.
Leading the show is area resident and lecturer Vivian Weede, a woman with decades of experience on the theatrical stage—and quite a few appearances in La traviata under her belt. Weede, a past president of the opera guild, has performed across the globe, including parts on Broadway.
While Weede provides narration to the story and highlights Verdi’s life, soprano Mary Paul, tenor Francisco Renteria and baritone Larry Alexander will sing pieces of the opera while Bonnie Bird plays the grand piano.
A graduate of the University of Arizona with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Voice, Paul has appeared in opera companies across the nation, including as a soloist, and has performed the operas of Mozart, Verdi, Donizetti and Johann Strauss, to name a few.
Hailing for Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, Renteria holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Piano Performance, and has won prizes and awards for his work, he’s always maintained a passion in singing. He’s also been seen on stage with the UA Opera Theater and previously with Arizona Opera.
Alexander is critically-acclaimed for a wide range of operatic roles and concert performances. Married to Paul, Alexander previously performed with the UA, taught in New York and maintains a private voice studio in Tucson.
Joining the singers, Bird studied at Julliard and later earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Piano from Westminster Choir College—and since earned a Master’s Degree in Accompanying and Voice from the College Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati. She is currently an accompanist and coach at the UA.
With such an impressive group of performers to supplement her narration, Weede said she believes the “La traviata” preview is not only the perfect opportunity to better understand the Arizona Opera performance, but a great chance for any lover of the arts to introduce themselves to opera.
The preview will take place Monday, Jan. 21 at the Oro Valley Council Chambers, 11000 N. La Cañada Drive, from 2 to 3 p.m. Admission is free, though donations are encouraged. Learn more about the opera guild at azogsa.org.