The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - DRESSING ROOMERS -

Af­ter she dies on stage, there’s noth­ing Aus­tralian so­prano Emma Pear­son likes more than a nice cup of tea. Herbal tea, ac­tu­ally.

Dy­ing goes with the ter­ri­tory in her lat­est role as the doomed Vi­o­letta in Opera Queens­land’s lat­est co-pro­duc­tion of Giuseppe Verdi’s La travi­ata, which opens at QPAC tonight.

We don’t have to is­sue a spoiler alert about the end­ing be­cause Vi­o­letta’s cli­mac­tic death is kind of the point, tragic as it is. She may be a cour­te­san (a eu­phemism for pros­ti­tute) but she has a pure heart and is wronged by so­ci­ety and worst of all, by the man she loves, Al­fredo (Italy-based Aus­tralian tenor Aldo Di Toro), although they rec­on­cile at the end just be­fore she, well, croaks. Emma Pear­son dies – like Sylvia Plath’s Lady Lazarus – ex­cep­tion­ally well, from all ac­counts.

“You do have to know how to die and in re­hearsal, I have al­ready died over and over again,” Pear­son says. “I’ve had a few roles in which I die, so I am get­ting used to the psy­chol­ogy. Mind you, it was quite shock­ing the first time and I had to sit and have a cup of camomile tea af­ter­wards and re­mind my­self it wasn’t real.”

Part of the tragedy in La travi­ata is that as she nears death from tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, or con­sump­tion as it was com­monly known, Vi­o­letta’s spir­its are raised be­cause she feels bet­ter. But as Pear­son points out, that is, cru­elly, just part of the dis­ease, a last-minute re­prieve from pain be­fore death.

Even if you’re not an opera buff, you might recog­nise the story from Baz Luhrmann’s film Moulin Rouge, although Aldo Di Toro reck­ons Luhrmann blew it.

“I think Ni­cole Kid­man was cheated in the movie be­cause she wasn’t given the death scene on screen,” Di Toro says. “She dies but Baz fo­cuses on some­thing else. In La travi­ata, you are not spared the fi­nal death scene.”

Emma Pear­son and Aldo Di Toro.

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