Melodrama in three acts.
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave.
Music by Giuseppe VERDI.
LITERARY SOURCE La Dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas the Younger
First performance: 6 March 1853, Venice.
La Traviata, a lyric drama, tells of the passionate love story between Alfredo, a rich young man, and Violetta, a Parisian courtesan. Alfredo’s family, worried that Violetta wants to deprive their son of his riches, asks her to relinquish her beloved. Social prejudices divide the two lovers, who are united by the truth and love only a few moments before Violetta’s tragic death.
Although the briefest of phrases, this is one of the most moving musical passages in the opera: Violetta is saying goodbye to her lover, although he is unaware of it. This line is quoted in a wealth of films, from: “The Leopard" by Visconti, to Fellini’s "And the Ship Sails On”, through to the end of "Pretty Woman", which could also be considered a “Traviata" with a happy ending.
Violetta Valery is a Parisian courtesan who falls in love with Alfredo Germont, a rich young man she meets at a party. An intense, passionate love overwhelms them but will be obstructed by social prejudices and his family. Even if the first interpretation of Violetta at La Fenice in Venice turned out to be a fiasco, she becomes the most famous female opera character in the world.
Giuseppe Verdi is recognised as being most probably the most important opera composer of all time, and his works are still the best known and most performed all over the world. Famous for his political commitment - his music was the soundtrack to the Risorgimento - Verdi was able to revolutionise opera, thanks also to the original way in which he interpreted its romantic nature. His characters have passed into history on account of the strong dramaturgy of feelings and of psychological aspects that were absolutely realistic for the period, permanently in a state of imbalance between individual passion and social commitment.