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The Lisbon Traviata

The Lisbon Traviata
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Terrence McNally
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service (cover may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 94
Pub. Date: 1992
ISBN-10: 0822206730
ISBN-13: 9780822206736
Cast Size: 4 male

About the Play:

The Lisbon Traviata has long been a favourite of acting teachers for Male Monologues and Male/Male Scenes.

The Lisbon Traviata is a full-length dramatic comedy by Terrence McNally. A successful Off-Broadway production, this incisive, brilliantly executed play veers from high comedy to stark tragedy as it follows the troubled course of a gay relationship – using an obsession with grand opera as a metaphor to underscore the larger-than-life passions that bring the play to its explosive conclusion.

The Lisbon Traviata is a powerfully moving tragicomedy about a crumbling gay marriage. The first act is set in the fussily ornate apartment of Mendy, a ferociously dedicated opera buff who begs and cajoles his friend Stephen to let him borrow his copy of the pirated Maria Callas recording of La Traviata made during a performance in Lisbon, Portugal. Stephen, a blocked playwright whose detailed knowledge of opera exceeds even Mendy's, delights in showing off his expertise while dodging his friend's entreaties, but beneath their often hilarious banter it is evident that both men are deeply unhappy – Mendy because of his loneliness, and Stephen because he is aware that his longtime roommate (whom he loves deeply) is having an affair with someone else. Both it seems, are trapped within opera, with its grand but contrived passions becoming a neurotic substitute for real life. But in the second act, that takes place in Stephen's starkly modern apartment, reality arrives with stunning force as Stephen confronts his roommate, Mike, and tries to salvage their relationship. Sensing his failure, Stephen turns on Mike and his new lover, Paul, driving the latter away and taunting Mike so venomously that all hope of a reconciliation is soon shattered. And, in the end, it is the operatic, the grandly tragic, which assumes control again as Stephen, unable to accept life and reality on their own terms, stabs his errant lover – tortured by his continuing lack of creative fulfillment and by the compelling need to preserve the illusion of love and fidelity to which he has clung so desperately.

The Lisbon Traviata opened in 1989 off-Broadway at Stage I of New York's famed Manhattan Theatre Club (MTC), transferred to a commercial run at the Promenade Theatre, and was nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play. The play has become a favourite scene study vehicle in acting classes and workshops and has been performed in regional, college, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 4 male

What people say:

"A savagely amusing and empathetic study of two men whose lives have been lost in opera. …McNally is a real writer with a flair for crackling dialogue." — New York Times

"…McNally is a lovely writer, his dialogue crackles crisply… I don’t know when I have heard such scaldingly intimate dialogue in the New York theater." — New York Post

"A highly entertaining, amusing, touching, compelling play." — New York Observer

About the Playwright:

Terrence McNally (1938-2020) was an American playwright whose career has spanned six decades. Initially active in the burgeoning Off-Broadway theatre movement in the 1960s, he is one of the few playwrights of his generation to have successfully made the transition to Broadway, and, in the process, passed from avant-garde to mainstream acclaim. In addition to four Tony Awards for his plays, he received two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Rockefeller grant, and was a recipient of the Dramatists Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, the Lucille Lortel Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Tony Awards' Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre Honor. He is considered one of America's great playwrights.

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