Love does not conquer all.

While Opera Carolina’s production of La traviata does not have a traditional villain, baritone Reginald Smith Jr. portrays Germont, a father who sabotages young love for the sake of familial duty.

“Someone who plays this character and does it very empathetically, or who is very almost apologetic about his role and his duty, it almost makes the entire show a little slow,” Smith said. “I strive to do the role in a very honest and sympathetic way, but also with a strength of ‘this is my [character’s] job. This is what I have to do for my family and my son’ to try to keep it interesting.”

La traviata (a three-act work by Giuseppe Verdi) opens at Belk Theater on Jan. 22 at 2 p.m. with shows Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 28 at 8 p.m. Audiences may recognize the plot from contemporary spinoffs such as Pretty Woman and Moulin Rouge! Class and credence condemn the love affair before the opening curtain places them in 1850 Paris.

“It’s great when you have the opportunity to sing anything, but especially these wonderfully dramatic works by Verdi,” Smith said. “If you really look at the show, there’s no real bad guy. I don’t think Germont is necessarily a bad person, but I think you definitely can see a huge character arc in that character, because of the beginning of the duet in Act II, he sort of comes in and is a little gruff. He’s a little rude when he first walks in their house.

“It’s a very interesting role. You can easily point out a bad guy in some other operas, but here it’s sort of situational, because of duty.”

Having performed the role of Germont before, Smith understands the task before him.

“Making it as relatable to today’s situations, in that people can really see themselves through the character is paramount,” he said.
An Atlanta native, Smith did not grow up on opera.

“One of the things that love to do is, especially as someone who didn’t grow up going to operas and listening to opera recordings, I like to try to make it as real and as humanistic as possible,” he said. “I think in this opera, even though it’s set in a previous time, it’s still a story or situation that is very true.”

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