Did you cry in Pretty Woman when Vivian (Julia Roberts) wept during her first opera? She was watching Verdi’s La traviata in Edward’s (Richard Gere) luxury box. In the movie and the opera, an aristocrat falls for a “working girl” with a heart of gold and offers her a better life. But a sinister, outside force tries to keep them apart. Hollywood gave it a happy ending.

Metropolitan Opera stars Elizabeth Caballero and Sean Panikkar will bring one of the world’s most famous – and tragic – love stories to life on the Belk Theater stage in January. James Marvel will direct a classic production of Verdi’s timeless tale of a love that’s forbidden because of class differences.

In the Opera, the plot is familiar: Aristocrat falls for a “working girl” with a heart of gold and offers her a better life. An outside force tries to keep them apart due to their class differences. (In Pretty Woman, it’s Jason Alexander’s character. In La traviata, the suitor’s father plays the heavy.) In Hollywood, love would save the day. But opera isn’t Hollywood, and the heroine of La traviata is gravely ill. When the tragic, tear-jerking end arrives, it’s glorious.

Opera Carolina presents La traviata January 22, 26 and 28. An opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi, Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, the story takes place in Paris in the fall of 1850. Oh and don’t worry that you won’t understand what is taking place due to a language barrier. English Supertitles Provided During The Performance.

The Opera stars Elizabeth Caballero, who returns to Opera Carolina to play the heroine of La traviata, Violetta Valéry. She made her Opera Carolina debut last season during Pagliacci & Aleko in the main roles of Nedda and Zemfira. Sean Panikkar performs the role of Alfredo Germont, opposite Liz Caballero. He is well known for being part of the all-tenor group Forte that took part in season 8 of America’s Got Talent. This is his first time on the Opera Carolina stage. Reginald Smith, Jr. also makes his Opera Carolina debut as Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father.

Soprano Elizabeth Caballero returns to Opera Carolina after being on the stage just last season as Nedda and Zemfira in Pagliacci & Aleko. Verdi’s tragic heroine, Violetta Valéry, is her signature role. She’s sung the part across the United States at Florentine Opera, Madison Opera, Pacific Symphony and the Orlando Philharmonic.

Panikkar, who performed on America’s Got Talent, is an American tenor who’s making his Opera Carolina debut as Alfredo Germont, Violetta’s love interest. The most challenging part of the role for him, he said, is “singing while crying.” He adds, “The story is so moving, and Verdi brilliantly wrote the music in a way that pulls the emotion out of you.” Panikkar starred with other America’s Got Talent season 8 finalists in a group they call Forte Tenors in the operatic take on Game of Thrones that went viral.

La traviata takes place in Paris in 1850, and is based on the real-life love affair of Alexandre Dumas and the Parisian courtesan Marie Duplessis. In the world of Paris’ elite of the time, social conventions bound everyone to a lifestyle that appeared proper. But beneath the surface existed another world where aristocratic men could enjoy the excesses their wealth offered, including the company of courtesans – like Violetta.

When Violetta and Alfredo meet, he has no idea she has a fatal illness. His father, Giorgio Germont, disapproves of his son’s choice of a mate. He believes the courtesan is ruining his son’s reputation.

Want to go? You can buy your tickets online now.

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