Opening night of the 2023-24 opera season and Florida Grand Opera’s gorgeous production of La traviata is less than a week away, offering the experience of immersing yourself in the luxurious world of 19th Century Paris’ most outrageous celebrities — the courtesans of high society. La traviata plunges you into the heart of the never-ending party in the salon of the most sought-after lady of the day, Violetta Valéry. Her tale of passion, romance, and heartbreak is based on a true story and became one of the most popular operas of all time, for good reason — its themes are universal, and its music is transcendent. Meet the world-class cast that will bring the characters of FGO’s La traviata to life.
Violetta Valéry is Cecília Violetta López‘ signature role, and critics call her “a Violetta for the ages.” She has performed the role to great acclaim with Minnesota Opera, Opera Colorado, Opera Tampa, Opera Idaho, Ash Lawn Opera, The Northern Lights Music Festival, Madison Opera, Pacific Symphony, and Virginia Opera.She last appeared with FGO as Rosalba in 2018’s Florencia en el Amazonas. Opera News named the native Idahoan one of opera’s “25 Rising Stars” by and USA Today acclaimed her as one of “Idaho’s Top Ten Most Influential Women of the Century.” But offstage, López is equally compelling. The proud daughter of immigrant farmworkers who came to the US to realize the American dream, López grew up singing mariachi music with her mother as they worked in the sugar beet fields.
Mariachi remains an important part of her music and cultural life. López presents this traditional Mexican music in concert alongside opera arias. Having begun her career as a music education major, she is passionate about sharing both musical genres and “demystifying opera, especially for people who look like me.” To learn more about López and hear her demonstrate the difference between opera and mariachi singing, see her interview with Artspeak.
Belarusian tenor Pavel Petrov makes his Florida Grand Opera debut in the role of Alfredo Germont, Violetta’s brash young lover. He has performed the role at the Arena di Verona, Savonlinna Festival, Bucharest National Opera, the Mikhailovsky Theatre, and Oper Graz. The 2018 winner of Operalia’s First Prize and the Don Placido Domingo Ferrer Prize of Zarzuela, the World Opera Competition, and a finalist of the Belvedere and Queen Sonja International Music competitions, Petrov enjoys a busy international career.
Recent appearances include Tamino (The Magic Flute) at Wiener Staatsoper, Opéra National de Paris and Dresden Semperoper, the Verdi Requiem with Orquesta Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias, and Lensky (Eugene Onegin) at Teatro Massimo di Palermo. When not performing, he can be found traveling and enjoying life with his wife and adorable infant daughter.
Baritone and former Florida Grand Opera Studio Artist Troy Cook last appeared at Florida Grand Opera as Enrico in 2017’s Lucia di Lammermoor. The Kentucky
native returns as Giorgio Germont, a role he has previously performed with Central City Opera and Inland Northwest Opera where his work was
acclaimed as “stirring,” “a standout,” and “a technically flawless performance.” Recognized for his vocal and physical elegance, Cook has graced the stages of some of the world’s greatest opera houses, including The Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, San Francisco Opera, La Monnaie (Brussels) and Opera Bilbao. He created the role of Father Palmer in Kevin Puts’ and Mark Campbell’s acclaimed Silent Night at Minnesota Opera and the role of John Cree in Puts and Campbell’s Elizabeth Cree at Opera Philadelphia. Recent performances include his 4th different production as Marcello (La bohème)
with Opera Philadelphia, his Virginia Opera debut as Major General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance, Germont with Inland Northwest Opera, and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Palm Beach Opera. Other frequently performed roles include Tonio (I pagliacci), Enrico (Lucia di Lammermoor), Rodrigo (Don Carlo), Valentin (Faust), and Ford (Falstaff), to name a few. Offstage, Cook is an avid gardener and cook. Read more about his hobbies and insights into the role of Germont on page 132 of Outclique Magazine’s November 2023 issue.
South Florida baritone José Vazquez will sing the role of the Marchese D’Obigny. A graduate of the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, he is a favorite at the Miami Music Festival, where he has appeared as The Prophet/King in Nico Muhly’s Dark Sisters, Jose Tripaldi (Ainadamar), Marullo (Rigoletto), Papageno (Die Zauberflöte), and Bartley (Riders to the Sea).
Second-year Studio Artist, tenor Joseph McBrayer, will sing the role of Alfredo’s friend, Gastone de Letorieres. McBrayer returns to FGO having sung the leading role of Paolino in El matrimonio secreto and Gherardo in Gianni Schicchi/Buoso’s Ghost in the 2022-23 season. He also sang Alfredo over the summer opposite his fiancee, first-year Studio Artist Hayley Lipke!
First-year Studio Artist, bass-baritone Keith Klein, makes his FGO debut as Doctor Grenville. Fun fact: Klein’s career began when he won the 2014 Kansas City Superstar Competition and appeared on Season 10 of America’s Got Talent! He is the recipient of the Encouragement Award from the Metropolitan Opera’s Laffont Competition as well as the Barbara and Stanley Richman Memorial Award from Opera Theatre of St. Louis.
Sara Kennedy, a first-year Studio Artist and soprano, debuts as Violetta’s trusted maid and confidante, Annina. A specialist in both musical theater and opera, she is especially known for her interpretations of Mozart heroines. In summer 2023, she made company debuts with Shreveport Opera, Opera Arlington, Camerata Bardi Vocal Academy, and Painted Sky Opera, and in 2022, won the prestigious Jacqueline Avent Concerto Competition at the Sewannee Summer Music Festival.
Mezzo-soprano Taylor-Alexis DuPont makes her FGO debut as Violetta’s friend Flora Bervoix. The first-year Studio Artist hails from Orlando, and has performed internationally from China to Italy, and was a cast member in the Metropolitan Opera’s 2019 Grammy-winning Porgy and Bess.
First-year Studio Artist and baritone Joseph Canuto Leon debuts as Violetta’s protector, the Baron Douphol. He has been featured with The Dallas Opera, Charlottesville Opera, American Baroque Opera Company, Painted Sky Opera, Opera on the James, and Opera in the Rock.
This stellar cast is rounded out with Miguel Llerenan as Giuseppe, Darren Littman as the Messenger, and Enrique Estrada as Flora’s Servant.
Are you ready for the La traviata experience? Get your tickets at fgo.org, or call 800.741.1010.