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Dressing the Opera

By Sarah Nordin. Costume design for this production is an exciting undertaking. Using wardrobe to convey a time and place as well as the personality of each cast member to the audience, dressing the players is an important part of telling the story.

With a principal cast of nine, La Traviata also features the chorus in two festive celebrations. “The costumes for this production are going to be similar to ‘Gone with the Wind.’ Think big hoop skirts and corsets,” says Sarah Nordin. Sarah not only plays the role of Violetta’s friend, Flora, but she is also the costume designer for this production.

“The biggest challenge of costuming La Traviata is the chorus. We need lots of elaborate dresses for everyone and this show has two big parties so expect some exciting costume changes for Flora and Violetta.”

Sarah will also be playing the role of Violetta’s friend, Flora. Sarah has performed with several prestigious companies, including six productions with The Metropolitan Opera including three Met Live in HD Broadcasts and their Japan tour. FCO patrons will know her from Penelope Ann’s Revenge, as well as Bernstein’s Broadway and Opera’s Most Haunting Melodies concerts. In the role of Flora’s lover, Marchese D'Obigny, is Sarah’s real-life husband, Tyler Putnam. Tyler has appeared in past FCO productions including the roles of Mr. Cox in Cox & Box/Penelope Ann’s Revenge and Dick Deadeye in H.M.S. Pinafore. Recent performances include Guglielmo in Così fan tutte with St. Petersburg Opera and Alidoro in La Cenerentola with Geneva Light Opera.

Also attending Flora’s parties is Violetta’s former lover who is looking to win her back. The role of Barone Douphol will be played by Jacksonville native J. Daniel Altman. Dan began singing as a child in Jacksonville’s San Marco area. Degrees in voice followed from Georgia State University and the University of Memphis, along with studies in Italy and performances nationally and abroad with companies that include Atlanta Opera, First Coast Opera, Opera del Sol, Little Rock Opera, Opera Memphis, The Janiec Opera Company, La Musica Lirica (Novafeltria, Italy), Quisisanna Opera, and Milwaukee Opera Theater.

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The love affair between fashion and opera is a passionate one. Everyone from Prada to Viktor & Rolf has designed for the opera stage, reveling in the drama, the glamour and the excess of the genre. La Traviata’s most fashionable moment came in 2016 when Sofia Coppola was invited to create a brand-new production for Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera with costumes designed by none other than Valentino.

Making a spectacular entrance to the Act I party scene in a hand-sewn black dress with a 10ft turquoise tulle train, Violetta and her costumes only got more dazzling as the evening progressed. There was a fantasy of a negligee for the final scene – all blush-pink tulle, net and silk – but the centerpiece was a drop-shouldered ballgown for Act II – in a deep, signature Valentino red. If La Traviata is the ultimate romantic opera, this was the ultimate romantic fantasy of a production.

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