Verdi's 'La Traviata' opens Atlanta Opera's season

The Atlanta Opera opened its season last week with a dazzling performance of Verdi's "La Traviata" that featured a Gwinnett resident in the starring role.

Soprano Jan Grissom of Suwanee earned a standing ovation during Saturday night's production as the tragic heroine Violetta. The opera focuses on Violetta, a Parisian courtesan facing a deadly illness who falls in love with Alfredo (played by Raul Hernandez of Mexico). She seeks a better, quieter life with Alfredo, but his father, Germont, persuades her to leave to salvage the reputation of Alfredo and his sister.

Violetta's love for Alfredo and anguish at being compelled to hurt him was almost palpable during the Saturday performance. And the emotional performance by Guido LeBron of Puerto Rico as Germont drew some of the most extended applause of the evening.

The Atlanta Opera will present three more operas this season, highlighted by the Atlanta Opera premiere of "Porgy and Bess." The 20th-century opera, which is sung in English, is set in Charleston, S.C., and sets a love story against a backdrop featuring a fight, a murder, a hurricane and more. "Porgy and Bess" will be performed Nov. 17, 19 and 20.

On March 9, 11 and 12, The Atlanta Opera will mark the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth with the composer's "The Abduction from the Seraglio." The German opera is a comedy set in a palace on the coast of Turkey.

The company will close out its season May 18, 20 and 21 with the popular "Tosca" by Puccini. The opera, sung in Italian, involves the lives of an escaped prisoner, painter, singer and a police chief.

Single tickets range from $19 to $145, and can be purchased through The Atlanta Opera's Web site, www.atlantaopera.org. The exhaustive Web site is a treasure trove of information, including full details on each local performance, details on The Atlanta Opera, and frequently asked questions and common misconceptions about going to the opera.

n What: The Atlanta Opera season performances

•The Gershwins' "Porgy and Bess" - Nov. 17, 19-20

•Mozart's "The Abduction from the Seraglio" - March 9, 11-12

•Puccini's "Tosca" - May 18, 20-21

•When: 8 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays

•Where: Atlanta Civic Center, 395 Piedmont Ave. N.E.

•Cost: Tickets range from $19 to $145

•Info: Call 404-881-8885 or visit www.atlantaopera.org

•Notes: A free, half-hour lecture on the history and synopsis of the opera is offered one hour before each performance. Also, The Atlanta Opera does not allow late seating, so ticketholders should arrive early. All operas are accompanied by English supertitles projected above the stage.