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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 12, 2011

UI Opera Theater presents Verdi's 'La Traviata' Jan. 27-30

The University of Iowa Martha-Ellen Tye Opera Theater will present Giuseppe Verdi's "La Traviata" at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 27-29, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 30, in the Englert Theatre in downtown Iowa City. The performances will be in Italian with English supertitles.

The production is staged by former opera singer Valorie Goodall (photo, left), a professor emerita at Rutgers University, where she co-founded and directed the Rutgers Opera Company, with music direction by William LaRue Jones and sets and costumes by Margaret Wenk-Kuchlbauer.

One of the most popular works in the standard opera repertoire, "La Traviata" (The Woman Gone Astray) is the story of the notorious Violetta, a tubercular Parisian courtesan who is redeemed when she sacrifices her happiness to protect the family honor of her beloved.

"The Lady of the Camellias" (performed in English as "Camille") by Alexandre Dumas, fils, the controversial play that was the basis for the opera libretto, was set in 1840s Paris. The story has inspired adaptations in various times and settings. In fact, the original production was projected back into the 18th century to avoid provoking the censors, and the UI production advances the story to the late 1950s.

Goodall recounts, "Last June, scenic and costume designer Margaret Wenk-Kuchlbauer flew to my home in Boulder, Colo., to show me her remarkable and unique vision of the scenic design of 'La Traviata,' for the Englert Theatre’s stage, and it was a perfect fit. Setting this opera in the late 1950’s was a brilliant idea: De Gaulle’s Fifth Republic was an ideal update from the 1848 Paris of the original novel."

The production has been conceived to fit the intimacy of the Englert stage.

Goodall explains, "Although this opera is one of the grandest of grand operas, it is also in essence a chamber opera, with only three leading characters and an intimate story line: courtesan falls in love and then gives up her own life in sacrifice for that love."

In the opera's all-student cast, the major roles are double cast. On Thursday and Saturday, Lynell Kruckenberg will sing Violetta, James Thompson will be Alfredo, Bryce Weber will portray Giorgio, Gretchen will be Flora and Megan Hafer will sing the role of Annina.

On Friday and Sunday, the cast will be Allison Czer, Violetta; Chaz'men Williams-Ali, Alfredo; Jason Mallory, Giorgio; Katie Galetti, Flora; and Rachel Jaicks, Annina.

Other artistic contributors to the UI production of "La Traviata" include school of music faculty member Shari Rhoads, vocal coach, and Ed MCarthy, lighting designer.

Tickets are $20 for nonstudents, $15 for senior citizens, $10 youth (17 & under) and $5 for UI students with valid UI ID and are available at the Englert box office, 319-688-2653, or online at

The UI School of Music is a unit of the Division of Performing Arts in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

UI arts events are searchable on the UI Master Calendar: Exhibitions are searchable at To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Director Valorie Goodall, 303-817-4250, Winston Barclay, UI News Services, 319-430-1013,