Verdi's La Traviata on Classical 91.5

Verdi's La Traviata on Classical 91.5

Sat, 04/17/2010 - 1:00pm

Credit: The Met Opera

Angela Gheorghiu stars as Violetta in Verdi's tragic tale of love, deception and redemption.

La Triviata

Music by Giuseppe Verdi.

Text in Italian by Francesco Maria Piave, after the novel La Dame aux Camélias, by Alexandre Dumas.

World Premiere: Venice, Teatro La Fenice, March 16, 1853

Verdi's La Triviata airs Saturday, April 17 at 1 p.m. on Classical 91.5 (91.5 FM/HD 91.9-1)


Act I

Paris, 19th century. The courtesan Violetta Valéry is holding a party in her apartment. Violetta’s patron, Baron Douphol, is among the guests, as are the Marquis D’Obigny and a new admirer of hers, Alfredo Germont. Having long adored her from afar, Alfredo now flirts with Violetta as he sings a drinking song (Brindisi: “Libiamo”). As the guests move to another room Violetta suddenly feels ill. Concerned, Alfredo returns and, alone with Violetta, confesses his love (Duet: “Un dì felice”). Violetta makes light of his declaration—she seeks pleasure, not love. But he persists, and she agrees to meet him the next day. After the guests have departed, Violetta thinks about her new suitor, wondering if Alfredo could be the man to change her life (“Ah, fors’è lui”). She quickly decides to keep her freedom (“Sempre libera”), but Alfredo’s voice, heard from outside, sings of the wonders of love.

Act II

For three months Alfredo and Violetta have been living in a country house near Paris. Alfredo reflects on their happiness (“De’ miei bollenti spiriti”). When their servant Annina reveals that Violetta has sold her possessions in order to keep the house, Alfredo hurries off to the city to settle matters at his own cost. Violetta enters and receives an invitation from her friend Flora to a party that evening. She is surprised by the arrival of Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germont. He demands that Violetta break off her affair with his son; the scandal of their relationship has threatened Alfredo’s sister’s engagement. Violetta says that she cannot. But Germont persists, and she eventually gives in (Duet: “Pura siccome un angelo”). Alone and devastated, Violetta sends a message of acceptance to Flora and starts writing a farewell note to Alfredo. He enters suddenly, and she can barely control herself as she reminds him of how deeply she loves him before rushing out. A servant brings Violetta’s note to Alfredo as Germont returns to console his son and remind him of his loving family back home in Provence (“Di Provenza”). But Alfredo, catching sight of Flora’s invitation, suspects Violetta has left him for another lover. Furious, he resolves to confront her at the party.

At her soirée that evening, Flora learns from the marquis that Violetta and Alfredo have separated. Alfredo enters, making bitter comments about love and gambling recklessly at cards. Violetta arrives with the baron, who challenges Alfredo to a game and loses a small fortune to him. As the crowd disperses, Violetta asks to speak with Alfredo privately. Fearful of the baron’s anger, she wants Alfredo to leave, but he misunderstands her apprehension. When she claims she loves Douphol, Alfredo calls in the others, insults his former lover, and hurls his winnings at her feet. Violetta is distraught. Germont arrives in time to witness his son’s rash act and denounces his behavior. The crowd rebukes Alfredo, and Douphol challenges him to a duel.


In Violetta’s bedroom six months later, Dr. Grenvil tells Annina that her mistress will soon die of tuberculosis. Alone, Violetta re-reads a letter from Germont saying the baron was only wounded in his duel. Alfredo, who has learned what happened between Violetta and his father, is on his way from abroad to ask her forgiveness. But Violetta senses it is too late (“Addio, del passato”). In a feverish daze, she hears street revelers celebrating Mardi Gras. As she tries to rush downstairs, Annina announces that Alfredo has arrived. Ecstatically, the lovers plan to leave Paris forever (Duet: “Parigi, o cara”). Germont enters with the doctor and Violetta gives Alfredo a portrait of herself, to keep in remembrance of her love. Suddenly, Violetta feels her strength miraculously returning. But this surge of vitality lasts just a moment; she staggers and falls dead at her lover’s feet.