On Tuesday, June 12, 2018, Cincinnati Opera held a Community Open Dress Rehearsal to kick off the 2018 Opera Season wherein guests were welcomed to watch a full dress rehearsal of Giuseppe Verdi’s classic work, La Traviata.

Dress rehearsals may vary from the main performance in that the director may stop the opera mid-performance to address creative problems or to adjust the lighting, costumes, or scenery. Otherwise, a full dress rehearsal is typically identical to a full performance—the performers are the same, the sets are complete, and the full orchestra plays in the pit.

At the Community Open Dress Rehearsal, a few other differences were apparent as well. The hall was conspicuously less full—perhaps at about one-third capacity—and the average age of the audience was considerably younger than is typical which made for a significant increase in energy level in the hall! The youthful group was also less seasoned than a typical opera audience as many who were present had not previously attended an opera.

“It’s an entertaining and educational way to engage young people from underserved communities in opera and the Music Hall experience,” said Tracy Wilson, Cincinnati Opera’s Director of Community Relations. “Young people really become wrapped up in the drama of the story. It was such fun at intermission to hear students describe what’s happening in the opera almost like they’re talking about the relationship dramas in a reality show or soap opera.”

Children attending the concert included groups from Dater Montessori, The University of Cincinnati Young Scholars Program, SCPA’s Opera Council, and Most Valuable Kids.

La Traviata was described in the program as being “one of the best-loved operas of all time—filled with soaring melodies, sweeping emotions, rousing drinking songs, and passionate characters.”

The production was completely entertaining and aesthetically stupendous. Norah Amsellem as Violetta, who was last seen in the Cincinnati’s Opera production of Turandot in 2015, was captivating. Ms. Amsellem’s first aria of the third act was particularly beautiful, her voice rising and falling concomitantly with the orchestra which is directed by Renato Balsadonna. Ji-Min Park returned memorably as Violetta’s lover, Alfredo.