While I’m at it, by comparison Luisa Miller isn’t half bad. The production suffers from indifferent (and occasionally bizarre) sets and costumes, but whatever, all these things cost big money and we don’t seem to have that kind of money around here. (By far the best sets this year were Lady MacBeth, and those were funded with a special gift from the estate of Bud Sugarman.) But hey, the director has figured out he has a story to tell, even it’s not exactly the most subtle thing ever written, and manages to do so in a way where you get a sense of connection with the characters–especially Luisa in her interactions with her father (Miller), the bad guy Wurm (effectively portrayed as quite the incarnation of evil), and her rival Federica.
Not that I’m recommending that anyone rush out and buy tickets for either of the Verdis on offer right now. But from a dramatic point of view, Luisa is middling with occasional moments of more-than-middling, whereas unless you want to go, close your eyes, and treat it as an extended Verdi recital (hint if you are tempted: CDs are cheaper than live opera), Traviata is really a complete write-off.