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Newsletter - October 2013


September celebration

We received this message from John Church, East Anglia Area Chairman, and his wife after our 30th Birthday.

“Many thanks for a splendid evening on Tuesday. It was an utterly wonderful cake (anniversary not wedding!) and the sparkling wine had been deliciously cooled. You do have some very talented members in Norwich DFAS and it was very interesting to meet and talk with some of them that evening. The support that you had given with the school mosaic project was very impressive and the film, together with a commentary, will do very well at the October Area meeting, and there will be the media award as well. We both thoroughly enjoyed the lecture as well so please accept our thanks for a very enjoyable time.

With very best wishes to you and to Norwich DFAS,
John and Patricia”

Special Interest Day

If you have queries about your booking for the Special Interest Day, please contact Liz Pierce at and not Sue Gray as on your programme card. The event is fully booked unless there is a cancellation.

Verdi’s “La Traviata”

How to describe our October lecture? You had to be there to appreciate Jonathan Hinden’s humorous introduction to Verdi’s “La Traviata”. He led us through the background, and the plot, and illustrated key moments with renditions of song and piano playing. It was a ‘study text’ for beginners and aficionados alike.

Portrait of Giuseppe Verdi by Giovanni Boldini, 1886.Portrait of Giuseppe Verdi by Giovanni Boldini, 1886
Portrait of Giuseppe Verdi
by Giovanni Boldini, 1886.

When the opera was first performed, it was flop; it was not what the audience expected, which was a tale of princes and battles set in an historic age: what the audience got resembled a contemporary domestic drama. The soprano in the lead playing Violetta, was too old, too heavily built, and too healthy, and in no way could convince as a young girl dying of consumption. A revival a short time later had a thin, pale soprano, and the production was backdated by 150 years, to make the audience more comfortable with the depiction of the demi-monde. This was the beginning of it being accepted and appreciated as a great opera.

The plot was based on the play “La dame aux Camélias”, itself adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas, fils. Dumas’s novel was semi-autobiographical about his own relationship with a young woman, who died aged 23. The play was a cause célèbre; Verdi also was living with a soprano outside marriage, which scandalised some sections of society. At some remove “La Traviata” was about a real person and Verdi’s heroine is a peg on which he could hang his opinion about hypocrisy in society.

The society in which the opera is set is that of courtesans and their protectors, respected and rich men who have no compunction in treating the pretty girl on their arm as a possession. The sincere and naïve young man, Alfredo, is possibly a reading of Dumas, fils. La Traviata literally means the one who has left the path; the fallen woman. Violetta is a classic Verdi heroine; she is aware that her way of life is sinful and yearns for redemption.

Jonathan showed – by his musical accompaniment – that all the characters and their emotions are reflected in the score. Verdi is showing up society’s double standards; his message is about the way we behave and the way we treat other people. This was all delivered with authority and humour without any notes (either for his text or the music) and the result was an evening that was both entertaining and informative and was greatly appreciated by the audience.

Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia

This exhibition offers NADFAS members ‘two for the price of one’ on Tuesdays and Thursdays only not as printed in the NADFAS REVIEW. Admission is also half price with the National Art Pass any day (it is closed on Mondays). It is an eclectic collection of works of different media, associated with East Anglia and is worth a visit to see some great, and some unknown, works which span the period of pre-history to the present.