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 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.