La Traviata


La Traviata

Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House

Raise your glass, flutter your pretty lashes, it's Paris in the salons and you're the life of this party. He's staring at you, he's singing for you... Are you tempted?

Violetta wears velvet and lace and drinks the very best champagne from crystal glasses. Her parties are legendary, her company sought after. She's free and free-spirited, living outside society's bounds, and for the courtesan, it seems like the party will never end. Could a little love really change everything?

La Traviata is so popular because it puts a life we couldn't possibly dream of on stage, with its risqué glamour, joys and sorrows. Verdi's music paints a picture of freedom with flying melodies, makes merry with rousing drinking songs and brings it all to a close with passionate duets between breaking hearts. 

This production by Elijah Moshinsky is one of our most successful, featuring lush party scenes in Paris and beautiful autumn afternoons in the countryside. Lavish, crowded sets and exquisite costumes combined with Verdi's famous, hummable tunes offer the perfect way to experience opera for the first time, or the chance to revisit a favourite with an exciting new cast.

The season opens with Ermonela Jaho as Violetta, who The Economist called "the world's most acclaimed soprano" after she won the reader's choice award at the International Opera Awards, and also features two Australian star sopranos, Lorina Gore and Emma Matthews.

Cheese board

Head up the stairs at the Joan Sutherland Theatre to enjoy the pop-up bar with an unbeatable view of the harbour, exclusive to ticket holders. The bar opens 90 minutes before evening performances. See the menu.

Conductor Renato Palumbo (until 4 Mar)
Anthony Legge
Director Elijah Moshinsky
Revival Director Hugh Halliday
Set Designer Michael Yeargan
Costume Designer Peter J Hall
Lighting Designer Nigel Levings
Choreographer Matthew Barclay

Assistant Director

Constantine Costi 
Violetta Valéry Ermonela Jaho (until 18 Feb)
Lorina Gore (23 Feb–4 Mar)
Emma Matthews
Alfredo Germont Ho-Yoon Chung (until 4 Mar)
Liparit Avetisyan
Giorgio Germont José Carbó
Flora Bervoix Dominica Matthews
Gastone John Longmuir
Baron Douphol Adrian Tamburini (until 13 Mar, except 8 Mar)
  Tom Hamilton 
Marquis d'Obigny Samuel Dundas
Dr Grenvil Gennadi Dubinsky
Annina Natalie Aroyan (until 13 Mar)
  Leah Thomas
Giuseppe Jin Tea Kim
Messenger Jonathan McCauley
Servant Malcolm Ede

Opera Australia Orchestra

Opera Australia Chorus

Running time: approximately 2 hours & 40 minutes, including two intervals.

Production Partner

The StoryHide

Beautiful and carefree, the courtesan Violetta is the life of every party. But behind her dazzling smile, she knows that she is dying. Unaware of her troubles, the shy Alfredo is in love. 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 living in the country, and it seems she could be happy. But Alfredo's father has other ideas. 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?

Act I

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 Douphol. Her guests have just completed a long lunch and the Baron is reading the last pages of a novel by Dumas to Violetta when 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.

Act II

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 Douphol 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 symptom of the last moments of her disease and she falls dead.

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