One of the most popular of Verdi’s operas, La traviata was first performed in 1853.  The libretto by Francesco Maria Piave was derived from the play La Dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas the younger, which had drawn on Dumas’ relationship with the Parisian courtesan Marie Duplessis. It may also contain echoes of the composer’s own relationship with the soprano Giuseppina Strepponi. Verdi intended his three-act opera to be set in mid-nineteenth-century Paris, but for its premiere in Vienna he was compelled to shift the period to the 17th Century to placate the censors.

Our heroine, Violetta Valéry, is a high-class courtesan. At one of her select parties she is introduced to Alfredo Germont, who has long admired her. She is ill, and she knows it, but when she almost faints, she brushes off attention. Alfredo falls in love with her but she says she is not worthy of him, wanting the freedom to go on enjoying life in her own way. After he has left, however, she realises that she could in time grow to return his love.

In Act Two the couple have set up home outside Paris when Alfredo’s father calls on Violetta while his son is out. He begs her to give up her relationship with Alfredo as the scandal is threatening his own daughter’s engagement. Violetta, though heartbroken, agrees to do this and leaves their home while Alfredo is out, asking her maid to hand him a farewell letter. 

She returns to Parisian high society and to her partner, the Baron Douphol. At a fashionable gathering where entertainment has been arranged by her friend Flora, the jealous Alfredo turns up and publicly accuses her of deceit and fortune hunting. 

In Act Three, it is evident that Violetta has been seriously ill with consumption for some time and is soon to die. Alfredo’s father has told him the truth and he comes to beg her forgiveness. They swear to be forever together and, near death, she recalls the happy times they spent with each other. Alfredo sends for a doctor, but it is too late and Violetta dies in his arms.

Composer:  Verdi Wiki Link: Title of Musical Work:  La traviata (The Fallen Woman) (Excerpts)

London Concert Choir concerts featuring this musical work:

Opera House
(13 July 2017)