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Lyric's La Traviata is a triumph of true love—and Verdi's music—even without its leading lady

It’s the date-night opera that made Julia Roberts cry in Pretty Woman.

When the general director steps out onto the stage before the curtain rises at Lyric Opera, it’s not a good sign. The audience for Wednesday’s matinee performance of La Traviata, Giuseppe Verdi’s 1853 tearjerker extraordinaire, was not pleased to see Anthony Freud or to absorb his message: celebrated soprano Albina Shagimuratova—the star attraction in this production—was down with laryngitis and would not be appearing as Violetta, the Parisian prostitute with a heart of gold.…

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