Sunday, November 27, 2011

Verdi's "La Traviata" Stirs Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman" Film

The classic 1990 film Pretty Woman has grossed over $463 million worldwide since its release. One of the most famous scenes occurs when Edward (Richard Gere) takes Vivian (Julia Roberts) to the opera (San Francisco Opera to be specific). The opera they see, La Traviata, is not such a coincidence since it is the story of a courtesan falling in love with one of her suiters, a theme reflected with the film's
characters (although no one dies of consumption). Scenes from Act I, II and III are featured. Actress Karin Calabro plays Violetta and Actor Bruce Eckstut plays Alfredo in the opera scenes. Here are some audio samples featuring Maria Callas:

"Sempre libera"

"Dammi tu forza, o cielo... Amami Alfredo"

"Teneste la promessa...Addio, del passato"

Other trivia:
-The entrance to the San Francisco opera house was actually filmed at the Museum of Natural History in Los Angeles.
-The crew had planned to shoot the opera scene in San Francisco, but was prevented from doing so because of the earthquake on October 17, 1989. This whole scene was cleverly faked on a small set at Disney, designed by Albert Brenner.

Some particularly memorable dialogue surrounding this scene in the movie includes the following:
Edward: Peoples reactions to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic. They either love it or they hate it. If they love it they will always love it. If they don't, they may learn to appreciate it - but it will never become part of their soul.

Matron: Did you enjoy the opera, dear?
Vivian: Oh, it was so good, I almost peed my pants!
[Vivian walks off.]
Matron: Wha—?
Edward: She said she liked it better than The Pirates of Penzance.
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