Guild to perform Verdi's 'Traviata'

The guild president welcomes the chance to support young singers.
YOUNGSTOWN -- As the saying goes, strike when the iron is hot. Youngstown Opera Guild took the statement to heart and is presenting its first full-scale opera production, Giuseppe Verdi's "La Traviata" at Stambaugh Auditorium Grand Ballroom.
"We know there's an audience out there. The fact that '[Ma-dama] Butterfly' we did at YSU was very well received and did well at the box office ... Also, The Western Opera Theater [touring company of San Francisco Opera] tour has been canceled," said Allan Mosher, guild president. Mosher is singing the part of Giorgio Germont.
"La Traviata," an opera in three acts, is based on real-life courtesan Marie Duplessis, who lived in mid-19th-century Paris.
The story tells of the relationship between Violetta Valery (Misook Yun) and Alfredo Germont (Francisco Cano) a son of good birth. It is also tells of Violetta's sacrifice of giving up her true love for the happiness of his family.
Appropriate setting
The opera focuses on these three characters with several minor roles, who are also the party-goers. The intimacy of the opera fits the ballroom space well, but the performance area has also made a need for creativity. It brings the opera to a normal room, without having the orchestra separating the audience from the performers.
The 40-piece orchestra has been replaced by a chamber orchestra of 12 musicians, performing on the side of the stage. Former Niles resident Randall Fusco conducts the orchestra.
Stage director and scene designer David Vosburgh noted that some adjustments were made for the ballroom.
"We are being clever with the sets. We are using units that move about on the stage to give the four different locations," he said. "Since it is an open stage, all of the changes are done in view of the audience."
Because of her expertise in 18th- and 19th-century clothing, Barbara Luce of Costume Kingdom will provide the costumes for the 14 cast members.
"I'm having fun with the women's things. The end of the Victorian period is such a decorative period for women's costumes. They always had to have something extra. There had to be ruffles or beads or something trimming the dress," said Luce.
Supporting young singers
Besides promoting opera in the area, Mosher sees this production as a wonderful opportunity to support future opera singers from the Mahoning Valley. "We're a nonprofit. I want to create opportunities for the students here. We're trying to build scholarships. We have started an endowment, Youngstown Opera Guild Italian Training Scholarship. My great desire is to see that endowment gets up to $50,00 then we can send some student of ours to Italy to study in the summer. We have wonderful students, but they don't have much money.
"If we can give them that experience of getting to Italy and being around top-flight professionals, getting immersed in the language and the culture ... You can do a lot in four weeks," said Mosher.

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