La traviata


La traviata

La traviata tells the famous story of how the beautiful but vulnerable courtesan Violetta is coerced into sacrificing her one hope of personal happiness for the sake of her lover’s reputation.

Set in Paris in the mid-19th century it is one of the most subtle and passionate of tragic operas in the repertoire.  

It presents fascinating characters and potent, moving and instantly recognisable melodies.

For emotion alone it is justifiably one of the most popular operas of all time.

Director Elijah Moshinsky’s compelling production gets to the heart of the opera’s themes of love and death with pathos and power.

The organic structure and melodic beauty of the score achieves aching tenderness and fragility when Alfredo embraces the dying Violetta, and she sings, ‘Gran Dio! Morir si giovine’: (‘O God, to die so young’).

Starring the radiant Emma Matthews as Violetta, exciting Polish tenor Arnold Rutkowski, who hands over the role of Alfredo to rising Australian tenor Martin Buckingham later in the season, and the outstanding baritone José Carbó as Giorgio, affirms the intimacy and grandeur of vintage opera. Komische Oper’s music director Patrick Lange conducts. 

Conductor Patrick Lange
Director Elijah Moshinsky
Rehearsed by Roger Press
Set Designer Michael Yeargan
Costume Designer Peter J Hall
Lighting Designer Nigel Levings
Violetta Valéry Emma Matthews
Alfredo Germont Arnold Rutkowski (to August 17)
Martin Buckingham
Giorgio Germont José Carbó
Flora Bervoix Dominica Matthews
Gastone Stephen Smith
Baron Douphol Shane Lowrencev
Pelham Andrews (9 August only)
Marquis d’Obigny Michael Honeyman
Dr Grenvil Richard Anderson
Annina Natalie Aroyan
Messenger Jonathan McCauley
Servant Richard Mitchell

Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra

Opera Australia Chorus

Running time: Two hours and fifty minutes including two twenty-minute intervals.

Performed in Italian with English surtitles.

A Listening Guide to La Traviata


A Listening Guide to La Traviata

“La traviata still dazzles with its sumptuous sets and full chorus.”

Daily Telegraph

“Emma Matthews ... delivers an intimate and textured performance that draws you in and breaks your heart.”



“Conductor Patrick Lange led with care and attention to detail ... drawing out the orchestra’s most interesting colours”

Sydney Morning Herald


Violetta has been to a sanatorium to treat her tuberculosis. On her return to health she throws a party to mark her re-emergence in the demi-monde under the protection of Baron Duphol. Her guests have just completed a long lunch and the Baron is reading the last pages of a novel by Dumas to Violetta as Flora, a rival courtesan, enters with her protector the Marquis.

Alfredo is introduced to Violetta by the decadent Gaston. Alfredo has begged Gaston to introduce him to Violetta. He has long been enthralled by her and has enquired after Violetta every day of her illness.

Violetta insists that everyone sits together and drinks a toast to the occasion. Alfredo is prevailed upon to sing a drinking song from Provence.

As the guests leave to dance in the ballroom, Violetta feels faint and is momentarily left alone. Alfredo re-enters and confesses his love for her. She asks him to return the following day.

After her guests leave and she is alone Violetta begins to consider the conflicting feelings of love and hedonism that are pulling her in opposite directions.


Scene I

Violetta and Alfredo have been living together for three months in a house in the country. When Alfredo discovers that Violetta is selling her belongings to pay for their expenses he is conscience-stricken and leaves to visit his father, to raise some money. His father however has decided to call on Violetta to persuade her to give up Alfredo. Alfredo’s sister hopes to be married soon, and his relationship with Violetta jeopardises the family’s honour. Violetta realises that as a ‘fallen woman’ she would destroy Alfredo’s family and consents to leave him. She decides to leave instantly and writes a message to Alfredo, breaking off their affair. When Alfredo receives the message he is distraught and, despite his father’s attempts to console him, rushes off to wreak revenge on Violetta.

Scene ii

A party is being held in Flora’s house. Alfredo enters to join the gambling party. When Violetta enters on the arm of the Baron she freezes with tension. Alfredo begins to insult the Baron and the two rivals meet over cards, and Alfredo, unlucky in love, cannot lose a hand. The game is interrupted by dinner.

Violetta begs Alfredo to leave before Duphol seeks revenge. Alfredo insists she comes with him and, in desperation, she says she loves the Baron. Alfredo publicly humiliates Violetta and throws money at her as payment for her services. Alfredo’s father reproves him for such behaviour.


It is early morning and Violetta is sleeping. The doctor has given her only a few hours to live. Violetta rereads a letter from Alfredo’s father, telling her that the Baron was wounded in the duel with Alfredo and that Alfredo may have left the country.

But Alfredo has been told by his father of Violetta’s sacrifice and he returns — only to be confronted by the dying Violetta. He humours her by telling her that they should plan a new life away from Paris. Alfredo’s father has followed him and enters, followed by the doctor. Violetta suddenly feels revived, ready to start a new life with Alfredo — but this is only the symptoms of the last moments of her disease and she falls dead.