A popular Italian opera is being put on at a venue where the regular talent is more accustomed to taking things off.

Mercury Opera has chosen Edmonton’s oldest strip club for their production of Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata. The company is known for making use of unconventional performance spaces such as public transit vehicles, circuses, and even the back of trucks.

Founder and artistic director Darcia Parada told CTV Edmonton that she hopes the buzz created by Chez Pierre Cabaret’s risque atmosphere will draw new patrons who may not have otherwise considered attending an Italian opera.

“I hope non-opera lovers come in droves. I hope this helps opera revive itself, because it’s hard to get people into the opera house these days,” she said on Wednesday.

La Traviata translates to English as “the fallen woman.” This production of the play is set in Paris in the 1920s. The plot follows members of the upper class living double lives, and partying with people who are not their spouses.

“Setting it in a strip joint or topless dancing bar seems fitting,” Parada said.

She does admit the choice may offend the sensibilities of some opera purists.

“There are some people who think it’s the coolest and wildest idea ever. And then there are a few other people that are squeamish and think, ‘Oh dear. Why would you do that?’” Parada said.

Keeping with La Traviata’s duelling themes of sin and redemption, Mercury Opera is also staging a family-friendly matinee at Edmonton’s Studio 96 -- a former church.

“I really do hope that people will come to both shows so that they get the juxtaposition, the contrast. And have two entirely different experiences,” Parada said.

Remaining performances at Chez Pierre Cabaret will be held on March 8, 9, and 10 at 7 p.m. The final show at Studio 96 will be held on March 11 at 3 p.m.

With a report from CTV Edmonton’s Graham Neil