MUSIC BY GIUSEPPE VERDI
LIBRETTO BY FRANCESCO MARIA PIAVE
RICHARD TANG YUK, CONDUCTOR
La Traviata is a work of magnificent depth, color, and emotion. Weaving together some of his most beautiful music into an intimate tale of love and loss, Verdi created an enduring masterpiece in the story of Violetta, the “fallen woman” who must struggle with a terrible choice.
Verdi based this opera on the story of La Dame aux Camélias, a novel and play by Alexandre Dumas fils set in the Parisian salons of the 19th century. The Princeton Festival’s production moves us forward to the glitz and glamor of 1920s Paris.
This production is a concert performance with The Princeton Festival Chorus and Orchestra. Sung in Italian with English supertitles.Read Synopsis
“Lindsay Ohse . . . was impressively fleet and precise, and she moved with grace and command.” – Opera News
“[Benjamin] Werley wielded a gleaming, flexible tenor and had the confidence to let his performance build and deepen.” – Opera News
“[Samantha Gossard possesses a] gorgeous mezzo-soprano voice, demonstrating a highly developed sense of phrasing and gesture.” – The Independent
“[Brian Major] sings . . . with clarity and strength, delivering rousing performances throughout the production.” – Broadway World Opera
A lavish party is underway at the Paris home of Violetta Valéry, a young courtesan famous for her beauty and vivacity. A nobleman named Gastone introduces Violetta to his friend, Alfredo Germont, who has been admiring Violetta for a long time. Alfredo proposes a toast in Violetta’s honor (“Libiamo ne’ lieti calici”).
Violetta is touched, but she is feeling faint and urges the guests to withdraw. Only Alfredo remains. He declares his love for her (“Un di, felice, eterea”) and warns her of the dangers of leading her pleasure-filled life. Violetta brushes off these warnings, despite the fact that she is already suffering from tuberculosis. She tells Alfredo that there is no place for him in her life. However, she does give him a camellia as he departs, telling him to return when the flower has faded.
Alone, Violetta considers Alfredo’s declaration (“É strano! … Ah, fors’ é lui”) against the freedom and luxury of her current life.
Violetta and Alfredo have escaped Paris together and are now living in a country home (“De’ miei bollenti spiriti”). However, Alfredo discovers that Violetta has been selling her possessions to support their life together, so he leaves for Paris at once to secure funds. On the same day, Violetta receives an invitation from her friend Flora to a party in Paris.
In Alfredo’s absence, his father, Giorgio Germont, visits Violetta and demands that she break off her relationship with his son (“Pura siccome un angelo”). Her reputation as a courtesan is threatening the engagement of Giorgio’s daughter. The two argue, come to respect one another, and reluctantly Violetta finally agrees (“Dite alla giovine”). Violetta accepts Flora’s party invitation and writes a farewell letter to Alfredo.
Alfredo returns to the cottage just before Violetta departs, giving her a chance to tell him how much she loves him (“Amami, Alfredo”). Violetta then leaves and Alfredo reads her farewell letter. Giorgio attempts to comfort his son (“Di Provenza”), but Alfredo is full of hatred and jealousy, suspecting that Violetta has left him for a former lover. He decides to confront her at the party in Paris.
At the party, Violetta is on the arm of Baron Douphol. Alfredo arrives and proceeds to humiliate the Baron at the gaming table, where he wins repeatedly. Violetta gently asks Alfredo to leave, but Alfredo demands that she declare she loves the Baron, which she finally does. Furious, Alfredo publicly humiliates Violetta by casting his winnings at her feet and denouncing her to the other guests (“Questa donna conoscete?”). Giorgio, who understands that Violetta still loves his son, reprimands Alfredo (“Di sprezzo degno”) while the Baron challenges Alfredo to a duel.
Violetta’s tuberculosis has worsened. Alone in her bedroom, she reads a letter from Giorgio Germont, telling her that Alfredo has wounded the Baron in their duel and is now coming to see her. Giorgio has told his son about the sacrifice Violetta made. Violetta fears that Alfredo may be too late (“Addio, del passato”), but he returns in time to give Violetta a final loving embrace (“Parigi, o cara”) before she dies in his arms.
Watch American soprano Renée Fleming sing Violetta’s famous aria “Sempre libera” in a performance of La Traviata from the Royal Opera House, London.