This is the program for the Video Opera Show at 2 - 4 pm at 3 La Leña Grove (off Summerhill Drive)
Following on from the Sydney Harbour CARMEN we turn now to LA TRAVIATA on the same watery stage, We will begin with the final scene from Act 1, with Violetta on a high, swinging on a
chandelier which would be envied by the Phantom of the Opera.
Sorry, no subtitles, but the Italian language will be part of the musical experience.
The two operas share a few facets: a flower given to the male protagonist by the female agonist (both women die in agony in the end); there are gypsies running everywhere; bullfighters are rampant.
Why didn’t Verdi (and the librettist Piave) give it the title
“Violetta”? It seems that they did, but it was called La Traviata (the Deviant, the wayward woman, the woman who went astray, or the fallen woman) on the
poster for its first performance on a Sunday evening in Venice in 1853.
It was originally The Lady of the Camellias, a partly
autobiographical novel and stage-drama by Alexandre Dumas (the son). He
called her Marguérite (Daisy, or Pearl), and her real name was Marie
Duplessis (but she was not South African). Marie was a Parisian
courtesan (not simply a woman of easy virtue but a lady of expensive
tastes); she was pretty, witty, and flitty. The list of her liaisons
includes Liszt, Musset, and Dumas. Marie and Alexandre lived together in
the country outside Paris in the summer of 1845, as in Act 2 of the
opera; but it was not father Dumas who separated them (as Germont does),
but their financial problems and the ‘waywardness’ of Marie. She died
about three years later, at the age of 23, ‘consumed’ by 'consumption'
(any disease causing wasting of tissues, especially pulmonary
At a party in her house, Violetta Valéry is introduced to
Alfredo Germont, who has loved her for a year. She starts coughing,
and when he comforts her, she gives him a camellia, telling him that
when it has withered he may visit her again. However, she does not want
an attachment, but desires to remain free always (sempre libera).
[2.1] AWAY FROM PARIS
Nevertheless, they enter into a blissful partnership in the
countryside, until Alfredo learns that Violetta is financing their
affluent lifestyle by selling her possessions. He rushes off to Paris to
get some money. His father comes to visit and spoils their happiness. He
first persuades Violetta to end her relationship with his son (because
it is affecting his daughter's chances of a good marriage) , and then
tries to persuade Alfredo to come home with him to Provence.
[2.2] FLORA”S PLACE
Alfredo has turned up at Flora’s party and he
sees Violetta reunited with Baron Douphol; he is angry, and after
remonstrating alone with her, he calls all the guests together and
brandishes the money he has just won at cards, at the Baron’s expense;
this will be payment for all the favours she has given him. His father
intervenes and rebukes him; all including Violetta reproach Alfredo.
[3.1] VIOLETTA’S HOME
has reached her final hour of life; she is with her maid Annina, and is
visited by Doctor Grenvil, also a band of carnival revellers (outside
her window), Alfredo (happy reunion), and then his father Germont
(wishing to embrace her as his daughter). She gives her lover a locket
containing a portrait for him to keep as a memento. Note that Alexandre
Dumas did not have a reunion with Marie Duplessis.