Pacific Symphony Aims to COVID-Proof a Verdi Opera Without Losing its Passion or Intimacy

In the world of the performing arts, it's hard to imagine anything that breaks more of the pandemic rules than opera. Singers in high passion bellowing nose to nose. Huge orchestras wafting grand chords from the pit. Supernumeraries by the dozen, all crowded onto the stage to make their world seem densely populated.

"So why would we even bother, right?" said director Bob Neu, cutting off a reporter's first question before it was even finished. Neu was hired by Pacific Symphony to come up with a pandemic-safe way to present an opera. The choice: "La Traviata," Verdi's 1853 chestnut that details the love life of a courtesan named Violetta who's dying of consumption. The result is a uniquely staged version of Verdi's work, which was filmed last month at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. It will be available for online viewing beginning Saturday, June 5 at 7 p.m.

Simply coming up with an opera that could be adapted to pandemic performance rules was a daunting task, Neu recalled.

"The big challenge, of course, is (that) most operas including this one are about love. The first thing that comes to mind is how do you take something that's about passionate love and do a staging where people can't touch and embrace and die in each other's arms and that kind of thing?"

But that wasn't the only challenge that gave Neu palpitations.

Panoringan: Summertime Sips and Japanese Concepts for AAPI Month

Local businesses pour a range of new beverages, signifying California's full reopening and the beginning of summer. We sample what's being offered, along with a look at Japanese restaurants as Asian American Pacific Islander month comes to a close.

Orange County has advanced to the Yellow Tier of the California Re-Opening Plan. This is an extraordinary achievement in public health, and means that many live, indoor events will be able to resume. In addition, the state remains on target for full re-opening on June 15th. Safety precautions and protocols will remain in place and should be heeded to protect the gains we've made; but Arts Orange County is proud to celebrate the return of gathering to enjoy the arts, and hopes you take advantage of the opportunity when you're ready! 


La Traviata

Pacific Symphony presents an unprecedented virtual reimagining of Verdi's immortal opera that promises to enthrall experienced opera lovers and newcomers alike  DETAILS »


Frida Cinema: LGBTQ Pride Month

Classics of queer cinema like "My Own Private Idaho", "Hedwig and the Angry Inch", "But I'm a Cheerleader" and more will be on the big screen at the Frida Cinema throughout the month of June  DETAILS »


The Coup de Comedy | Global Improvisation Initiative 2021

Talent from around the world comes together in the virtual realm for a lineup of inventive, funny celebrations of the art of improvision, courtesy of UC Irvine’s Improv Revolution (iRev)  DETAILS »


OC Día del Niño Festival

One of the signature events of the annual Imagination Celebration, this year's virtual edition of the "Day of the Child" Festival has been extended through the end of July - with a dazzling variety of performances available for online viewing  DETAILS »


Studio Arts Festival

The Irvine Fine Arts Center will hold this year's festival outdoors in Heritage Park, giving you a safe opportunity to meet local artists and purchase unique paintings, jewelery, sculptures, and so much more  DETAILS »

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Voice of OC is Orange County's nonprofit newsroom with a mission to consistently deliver fair, focused and thorough journalism on critical quality of life and local issues for Orange County communities.

Arts Orange County builds appreciation of, participation in and support for the arts and arts education throughout Orange County. Event information provided by SparkOC, an Arts OC program.