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La Traviata

An opera in three acts
by Giuseppe Verdi

Premiered at Teatro la Fenice, Venice, March 6, 1853.

Setting

Paris, 1850

Act I

The opera begins in a salon in Violetta's house in Paris. Gaston has brought Alfredo to the revel. He informs Violetta of Alfredo's love for her. She takes this news lightly, but is touched by the sentiment. Already there are slight indications of her failing health. The revel moves into another salon. As Violetta is about to follow, she is seized by a coughing fit and sinks onto the sofa to recover. Alfredo has remained behind. He professes his devotion to her and reveals that he has loved her for over a year. After everyone leaves, Violetta reflects on the depths of his devotion. Her heart is touched.

Act II

Violetta and Alfredo have been living in a country house near Paris together. Violetta had given up the temptations of her former life. From Aminna, Alfredo learns of the exorbitant expense of keeping a house in the country and that Violetta has been pawning her jewels to raise the funds.

Alfredo takes off for Paris to raise money to be able to reimburse Violetta. While he is gone, Violetta receives an invitation from Flora to a party which causes her to reminisce her former life. She laughs at the thought of herself going. A visitor, Giorgio Germont, Alfredo's father, is announced. She foresees separation with her love and is fearful that doom is impending.

Giorgio implores her to give up this liaison with his son. He claims the relationship is ruining Alfredo's business reputation and will soon harm the family reputation. Alfredo has a sister who is soon to marry. The fiancé's family will surely protest the marriage with such a scandal about. She folds to his demands. Giorgio leaves. Violetta pens a note to Flora, accepting the invitation to the party. Then a note to Alfredo informing him that she is going back to her old life. Alfredo enters. He hears the news that his father is coming to visit him to try to convince him to stop this insanity. Violetta leaves, pretending not to want to be present during the confrontation, but is really leaving him to go back to her old life. Alfredo is left alone. A messenger comes in with a note addressed to him from Violetta. He believes Violetta has betrayed him. His father quietly enters from the garden and offers him solace. Alfredo rises, he sees Flora's invitation. Now he knows where to find Violetta and vows revenge. Alfredo goes to Flora's house. He finds Violetta on the arm of Baron Douphol, Violetta's old protector. He makes a crass remark. Violetta winces and the Baron takes offense. Violetta asks to speak with Alfredo in private. She begs him to leave in fear of a confrontation between the two men. Alfredo thinks she is more concerned for the Baron than for him. She on the verge of revealing the truth when she remembers the promise she made to his father. She confesses, instead, to love the Baron. Alfredo calls the crowd into the room. He hurls explicative after explicative at her. Finally, he throws the winnings from his gambling earlier in the evening at her. Violetta faints in the arms of Flora and Dr. Grenvil. The elder Germont enters in search of Alfredo. He alone knows the sacrifice involved, but keeps the secret to himself.

Act III

Violetta's bedroom: she wakens and calls weakly to Aminna. She tries to rise, but falls back on the bed. Aminna helps her to the settee. Dr. Grenvil enters in time to lend a hand. He offers encouragement about her condition to her, but confides to Aminna that Violetta has but a few hours to live. Violetta receives a message from Giorgio Germont. He has revealed to Alfredo the depth of Violetta's sacrifice. Alfredo is on his way. She has little hope that he will arrive in time. Aminna sees Alfredo coming. She hastens him inside. He is with Violetta once again. Death is at the door. They ignore death and sing of the future they will not have together. The elder Garmont and Dr. Grenvil arrive. There is nothing to be done. The breath of life has left Violetta. La Traviata is dead.

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Giuseppe Verdi (Bio)
Review of the 1996 AZOpera production of La Traviata

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