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Star-studded cast imparts sparkle to Verdi spectacular

by Raju Thakrar

The New National Theatre Tokyo is currently staging the opera “La Traviata” for the first time in four years. Renowned Japanese conductor Toshiyuki Kamioka, making his first-ever appearance at the NNT, will lead a cast peppered with world-famous singers.

This work by Italian composer Guiseppe Verdi is set in Paris at the beginning of the 19th century. The audience will find themselves entranced by the opera’s beautiful and sorrowful music, and moved by its tear-jerking ending. “La Traviata” is so popular in the West that it ranked third on Opera America’s list of the 20 most-performed operas in North America.

Kamioka is well-established in Europe, specifically Germany, where he has been music director of the Wuppertal Theatre, near Dusseldorf, since 2004. The German Orchestra Association in Berlin lists him as one of five Japanese conductors who have been hired to lead one of Germany’s professional orchestras. His performances have been lauded as “highly musical and differentiated interpretations,” and he often receives standing ovations from German audiences.

The central role of Violetta Valery is played by Romanian singer Elena Mosuc, who in 2005 was given the title of Officer of the Arts, the country’s highest musical award, by the Romanian president. In addition to making numerous appearances at the Zurich Opera House, which she has had close connections to since the beginning of her career, she has made guest-star appearances at all the important opera houses in Europe.

Roberto Sacca, one of Europe’s leading lyric tenors, plays Alfredo, Violetta’s lover. His first performance in this role, in 1999 in Cologne, became a sensational success, and since then he has said, “With Verdi, you have to enrich the emotional level with personal impetus.”

Performances are scheduled for June 8 (2 p.m.), June 11 (7 p.m.), June 14 (2 p.m.) and June 17 (2 p.m.). Tickets range in price from ¥3,150 to ¥21,000. A limited number of student tickets are available (at ¥1,500) with advance booking. For more details, go online to www.nntt.jac.go.jp/english/index.html