Italy invented Opera but its opera house in Rome has been in crisis. It’s been losing money and in recent years, its musicians have gone on strike. So the opera house came up with an idea—invite a member of a famous Italian and American film directing family to stage a performance. Our correspondent James Reynolds went to see the premiere of Sofia Coppola’s production of "La Traviata".
It’s opening night. There’s red carpet outside. And the auditorium here is full. In recent years, this opera house has been as sick as Violetta, the heroin of "La Traviata". But the arrival of Sofia Coppola in Valentino has changed all that. We’ll wait the performance. During the next three and a half hours, the heroin Violetta battles against tuberculosis whilst managing to win, break up with and then win back her lover Alfredo. She dies flamboyantly in his arms wearing a gown designed by Valentino. There is an after-party here at the opera which features guests who look just as gilded as anything we’ve just seen on the stage. And everyone is crowding around Sofia Coppola and also her father Francis Ford Coppola, the director of “The Godfather”.
It seemed to go well. And I was happy cuz the other night when I thought I was really nervous, I could actually enjoy it. So I think it went well.
How is the transition to opera been?
Really thrilling. Yeah, everyone here was so kind. It’s been fun to be part of the theatre, community and it was really exciting.
Sofia Coppola learned opera from her father. In his final “Godfather” film, he even cast her as a character who gets killed on the steps of an Italian opera house. Francis Ford Coppola watched the premiere of this, her first opera from the royal box.
How did you enjoy the performance?
I love that. I thought it was beautiful, very moving.
What role has opera played in the Coppola family life?
Well, my whole family was involved in.. We are all professional musicians, so you know… We know a lot about it. We have been to see it. And my father was always very kind. He always told me always the story.