La Traviata Synopsis

November 5, 2018 | By Opera Colorado | La Traviata
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Opera Colorado’s production of Verdi’s La Traviata runs November 3-11, 2018. For tickets and information, click here.

To read a program note about La Traviata, click here.

Characters

Violetta Valéry soprano
Annina, Violetta’s maid soprano
Flora, Violetta’s friend mezzo-soprano
Alfredo Germont tenor
Gastone, party guest tenor
Giuseppe, Violetta’s servant tenor
Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father baritone
Baron Douphol, Violetta’s lover baritone
Marchese d’Obigny, party guest bass
Dr. Grenvil, Violetta’s physician bass

Setting: Mid-1800s Paris

Act I

The courtesan Violetta Valéry has been seriously ill, but, believing herself recovered, now celebrates her return to society. Amongst the guests is Alfredo Germont, who has long admired Violetta from afar. After the revelers sing a drinking song, Alfredo finds Violetta alone and pledges his devotion and his concern for her health. Touched by his words, Violetta cautions him that she is incapable of love. The guests depart. Violetta ponders her feelings, weighing the benefits of carefree pleasure as opposed to true love. Alfredo’s distant voice reminds her of his affections.

Act II, Scene I

For three months, Alfredo and Violetta have shared their love at a country house, but the heart alone cannot pay the bills. Learning that Violetta has been secretly selling her belongings so as to finance their idyll, Alfredo leaves for Paris to settle the finances. In Alfredo’s absence, his father Giorgio Germont arrives, hoping to persuade Violetta to leave his son, lest scandal ruin his family, and thereby the marital hopes of Alfredo’s sister. Violetta protests the sincerity of her love, but at last agrees that it would be best for Alfredo if they part. She also accepts Germont’s insistence upon secrecy. When Alfredo learns of her abrupt departure, he vows to get her back and finds no consolation in his father’s well-intended words.

Act II, Scene II

Violetta’s friend Flora is giving a ball in Paris with masked entertainers. Alfredo arrives and challenges Violetta’s escort, Baron Douphol, to a game of cards, which Alfredo wins. While the others dine, Violetta, fearful of the Baron’s anger, warns Alfredo to leave for his own safety. In his fury, Alfredo will not listen, and instead shames her before the crowd by throwing his winnings in her face as payment for her services. The other guests, Germont amongst them, support Violetta, who sadly assures Alfredo that someday he will understand her actions.

Act III

Violetta’s illness has returned. Attended only by her maid Annina, she lies dying. A letter from Germont announces Alfredo’s imminent return, but Violetta is sure he will come too late. Father and son both arrive. The lovers dream of their future together, and Germont apologizes for his interference. Joyfully, Violetta declares her pain has ended, but it is only a brief respite before she dies in Alfredo’s embrace.

Program notes and synopsis © Betsy Schwarm, author of Operatic Insights, and seven other books on classical music.

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