Dancers and real-life couple Kathleen Breen Combes and Yury Yanowsky portray the lovers Marguerite and Armand Duval (same initials as Alexandre Dumas, by the way). Marguerite is a beloved courtesan with many a suitor who captures the heart of Armand, but their love is haunted by the specter of her tuberculosis and his father’s societal concerns. Out of love for Armand, Marguerite pushes him away, dying ill, heartbroken, alone, and impoverished.
Combes and Yanowsky’s pas de deux at the climax of Act I brims with emotion, eliciting tears and chest clutching from the audience and causing one man to say, “That was the most romantic first-act I’ve ever seen.” Lady of the Camellias does not cease to take your breath away in the following acts. Pavel Gurevich as Duval, Sr. is a formidable presence and he effortlessly performs dance as dialog. The conversation with Marguerite is tense yet tender. The comfort he provides to Armand after his son’s heartbreak reduces the man to child, Armand collapsing into Duval, Sr.’s arms in a father-son Pietà.