As far as operas go, they don’t get much better or bigger than Verdi’s La Traviata. Many opera lovers will advise first-time audience members of the form to start out with Verdi, as the drama and aesthetics of his operas can draw in even the most skeptical viewer. Based on Alexander Dumas’s 1848 novel La Dame aux Camellias, La Traviata tells the tale of a fallen woman. The first staged rendition of this story premiered in 1852 in Paris and has been consistently performed since. In fact, the tunes of La Traviata are so embedded in society, that many whistle or hum them without even knowing their true origin.

When taking on this massive masterpiece, Argentinean choreographer Inaki Urlezaga strived to keep origin and authenticity in mind with every step. His ballet rendition of La Traviata will take the stage at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center this month as part of the 2012-2013-dance season.

“For the creation of La Traviata, I tried to follow the literary text of the opera, although the opera is an adaptation of the novel. I tried to relate it to me and my company in the most possible and real way,” explained Urlezaga in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post.

Speaking from his home in Buenos Aires, Urlezaga revealed a great passion for Verdi’s opus. Thrilled by the idea of a ballet La Traviata, Urlezaga delved into uncharted territory, with only his feelings and the music as a guide.

“The music of this opera is a dream for an artistic work such as this. It has a certain drama, which I would even call carnal. That really attracted me.

The story is very human, meaning for me that it feels very natural,” he said.

During the months spent in the studio, Urlezaga painstakingly translated the libretto of La Traviata into movement. Though the ballet version is not as linear as the opera, audiences can expect to recognize most major plot developments in the dance.

“La Traviata in ballet is an innovation. I think that it is extremely important to approach the audience with something different while, of course, respecting those brilliant years in which the work was written. And, of course, the production is adorned with excellent costumes and scenery,” he said.

Urlezaga’s path to the director’s seat was similar to that of many of his contemporaries. After many years of traveling the globe as a professional ballet dancer, with stops in the Dutch National Ballet and the National Ballet of London, Urlezaga returned to Argentina with a goal in mind – to establish a reputable ballet company in his home country. In 2000 his vision became reality, and Ballet Concierto was born. Each year since has brought in new performances, young talented dancers and exciting new repertoires.

However, for Urlezaga, the last 12 years have planted a flag in the tip of the iceberg.

“I can see that the audience expects something great from us, which is a wonderful feeling. I feel that the impact of our work is greater. The audience is expecting new shows, which is why when we present a production like La Traviata, people respond immediately. I’d like to continue providing the creativity that I know people are excepting and to allow the company’s repertoire to continue to grow. We are making major efforts to include new titles, especially from recognized international and Argentinean choreographers. The world has come to accept us, and gradually we have started visiting the most beautiful stages in the world, in this case the Tel Aviv Opera House. We always work with great respect, and I think the audience can feel it,” he said.

La Traviata will run at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center from October 22-27. For tickets or more information, visit www.israel-opera.co.il.

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