Known for its great art, Florence is the home of Michelangelo’s "David" and Botocelli’s "Birth of Venus" (or what is known in the vernacular as "Venus on the Half Shell"). I looked forward to going to see La Traviata by a group called La Lireca Di Firenze. It promised “professional musicians coming from the most important Italian Theatres, with many years of experience in the field of Italian opera - with innovative direction and wonderful costumes." La Traviata was to be performed in the theatre auditorium of the Duomo, the elaborate ornate cathedral in the center of Florence.
The auditorium wasn’t inside the Duomo but, rather, was near it, and was more like a high school auditorium. With a few exceptions, the singers were neophytes, the costumes tacky, the acting atrocious, and the direction nonexistent. My expectations were not met.
In all fairness, I recognize that young opera singers need a place to perform and sing all that grand music. The singing wasn't all that bad, and two singers - Marcello Maurizi, who plays a doctor, and Rocco Angeletti, who plays Violetta’s date in the last act - were pretty good. The tenor (Luciano Gadda), a rather plump Germont, barely ever looked at the leading lady and performed only for us, but I have seen such behavior in far better situations than this. Violetta was sung by Barbara Luccini who did a respectable job and even acted too.
The "orchestra," the Lirica Florentina, was directed by Laura Sgaragli. Though a modest ensemble of two violins, a viola, a bass, and an electric piano, it was the most professional thing about the evening, and it was a pleasure to hear the familiar music again.
La Lirica Di Firenze alternates with a group called Musica in Maschera, which performs opera arias and sports 18th century costumes and commedia masks. That might have proved more interesting. La Traviata plays June 7, 14, 21, and 28. Musica in Maschera plays until July 26. In Italy call 322.214.171.1240.