by Morgan Sheets
The backside of a La Traviata record.
Photo copyright – hansthijs
In the new Aldo Bernardi Opere collection of “Le Magie dell’ Elefante”, each light fixture or family of light fixtures is named after an opera composed by either Verdi or Puccini. Today, I am going to highlight one of the most beloved opera’s, La Traviata.
La Traviata was written by Giuseppe Verdi and set to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. Translated, the title literally means The Fallen Woman or Woman Who Goes Astray. It is based on the French play, La dame aux Camelias, adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas.
The Camelia flower.
Photo copyright - Renata_Pancich
This three act opera was first performed on March 6, 1853 at the La Fenice opera house in Venice. Initially, due to an unpopular casting choice for the singer playing Violetta the opera was not well received. The displeased audience led Verdi to wonder whether it was his poor writing or the ill cast Violetta that was to blame. Thus, the opera went into revisions and emerged a few years later to much acclaim. Today, it is one of the most popular and second most performed operas worldwide (according to Operabase).
The main character of the story is Violetta, a famed courtesan from Paris who lives a life of leisure, and though she is courted by a Baron she maintains her independence and freedom and has never fallen “victim” to love. This all changes as Alfredo, a friend of a local count, professes his love and devotion to Violetta as well as his concern for her fragile state of health. Initially, she turns him away because she is unwilling to give up her current lifestyle and fears that fate will only thwart her love and happiness. However, she soon changes her mind as Alfredo’s advances seep into her heart and she decides that the prospect of a sincere and true love is worth giving everything away for and risking the pain and devastation of another dissapointment in her life. For those who have not seen this opera I do not want to give away too much. Just know that it is a story of love found, lost, and regained.
I had the pleasure of seeing this opera performed last Friday by the Indianapolis Opera at Clowes Hall. Since we’ve released this line of lighting I’ve been very intrigued by the opera’s themselves and finding a connection between the light fixtures and the opera’s which they were named after. I’m still a bit unclear about these connections and if they truly exist but in my musings I have noticed a few resemblances. For one thing, the shades of the Aldo Bernardi La Traviata series of lights seems to mimic the petal of the Camelia flower. Also, the gently sloping curve of the shade is reminiscent of the style of the dress highlighted in the opera which accentuates and gently exaggerates the curve of a woman’s hips. In my eyes, Aldo Bernardi is similar to Verdi as well. Although his lighting has been widely successful in Europe and has received accolades, I don’t think his genius has truly been recognized yet. I see this timeless and classic yet forever modern family of La Traviata sconces as withstanding the test of time just the same as the opera that it has taken its name from.
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