La Traviata opera's artistic director Jose Aparicio says opera helps us remember what it is to be human. He chats to Mark Story

Give us a quick synopsis of La Traviata.

Violetta is a courtesan in 1930 Paris. She is suffering from consumption disease. She meets Alfredo on one of the usual parties that she hosts and falls in love with him. They move out in to the country and she is forced to sell many of her possessions to keep their lifestyle. Alfredo's father arrives and asks Violetta to break up with Alfredo, if she doesn't, Alfredo's sister won't be able to marry a well positioned gentleman who has demanded that Alfredo's family has no association with Violetta. Violetta accepts and returns to Paris with her friend Flora, but doesn't tell Alfredo, who then believes that Violetta is now wanting to be with another richer man. Alfredo goes to Flora's party and makes a scene in front of everyone. And the rest you'll have to find out at the theatre ...

How will you treat it?
The concept is based on the end of 1920s and 1930s Paris and we're reverting to our tried and trusted formula of elevating the production with all the design and flair of the Art Deco period.

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Does Art Deco season colour which opera you choose, or are they unrelated?
Not necessarily, but sometimes it shapes how we treat the production.

What are the primary concerns of an artistic director in opera?
For Festival Opera the most important aspect is to make sure that the professionals, amateurs and volunteers involved get to experience a wonderful time working together and enjoy creating possibly the most complex of art forms.

If opera has a role in modern society, what is it?
To make people remember what it is to be human; experiencing excitement, joy, sadness, to be moved by the incomparable beauty and power of the human voice on a live stage. We all involved, performers and audience, are better after experiencing such a feast for the senses. You don't need to have seen an opera before to experience this.

Festival Opera's La Traviata runs on February 12, 14, 16 and 18 at Napier's Municipal Theatre. Tickets at ticketek.co.nz