For a modern audience, La Traviata offers everything we think of when we think of the opera: a consumptive heroine, velvet dresses and heaving bosoms, lavish party scenes and touching intimate moments. The music is rousing, the stage crowded, the story at once romantic and tragic — a perfect escape from our own lives.
Yet the story of La Traviata, so exotic and literary for us, was devastatingly close to Verdi’s own life.
Shortly after the death of his young wife and children, Verdi took up with his own “traviata”, or fallen woman — a celebrated soprano who daringly defied convention in favour of freedom and a life of luxury. When Verdi gives Violetta that flying aria celebrating a life of liberty, was he thinking of his brave and beautiful mistress?
When the proud Germont sings of his love for his beautiful daughter, was the composer thinking of his own children?
When Violetta lies in her bare apartment, overcome by her relentless disease, was Verdi thinking of his late young wife?
Whatever the composer dwelt upon as he wrote the stirring music of La Traviata, it was a powerful muse. When La Traviata premiered, the show stopped four times in Act 1 alone — a rapturous audience demanding Verdi take the stage and bow for the beauty he had brought to the stage.
This season, it will be thrilling to see Lorina Gore step into the role of Violetta, with exciting young tenor Rame Lahaj making his Australian debut.
Verdi specialist Renato Palumbo returns to conduct after his triumph with Rigoletto in 2014.
The champagne is flowing, celebrations are in full swing. Lights, music and dancing fill the air and Parisian party girl, Violetta, is the life and soul of the party. And as she contemplates a life of love, it seems as though the party will never end.
|Revival Director||Tama Matheson|
|Set Designer||Michael Yeargan|
|Costume Designer||Peter Hall|
|Lighting Designer||Nigel Levings|
|Violetta Valéry||Lorina Gore|
|Alfredo Germont||Rame Lahaj|
|Giorgio Germont||José Carbó|
|Flora Bervoix||Dominica Matthews|
|Baron Douphol||Pelham Andrews|
|Marquis d'Obigny||Luke Gabbedy|
|Dr Grenvil||Gennadi Dubinsky|
|Giuseppe||Jin Tea Kim|
Running time: approximately 2 hours & 45 minutes, including two 20-minute intervals.
Performed in Italian with English surtitles.
La Traviata: A Listening Guide
Listen to 'Sempre libera' from La Traviata
Watch the La Traviata trailer
La Traviata at Sydney Opera House in 2015
Costume fitting: Lorina Gore as Violetta
Beautiful and carefree, the courtesan Violetta is the life of every party. But behind that dazzling smile, she knows that she is dying. Unaware of her troubles, the shy Alfredo is in love. He declares his feelings, and Violetta is torn: is the promise of true love worth giving up her life of freedom?
She takes a chance on a life with Alfredo, and in the country, it seems she could be happy. But while Alfredo is away, his father Germont arrives. He demands the impossible: Violetta leave Alfredo, for the sake of his family's reputation.
Devastated, Violetta agrees, and writes Alfredo a letter of farewell, concealing her love.
Alfredo is heartbroken and furious, and coming face to face with her at a ball, he delivers the ultimate insult.
Will Alfredo learn of Violetta’s undying love before she succumbs to her illness?
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.
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.
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
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.