“La Traviata” is a three-act opera by Verdi which tells a story of life and love of Violetta – a fallen woman. The opera is based on the novel of Alexander Duma “La Dame aux Comelias”. “La Traviata” was written in 1853 and was performed for the first time in Venice on March 6, 1853. The title of the opera means ‘the fallen one’ or ‘the women who strayed’. Nevertheless, the first performance is considered a brilliant fiasco as Verdi wrote the next day that “La Traviata’s last night a failure. Was the fault mine or the singers’? Time will decide”. (p.550)Violetta is a beautiful woman, but she is a courtesan. Violetta is devoted to an honest lover – Alfred Germont. She regards him with greater favor than other lovers, but Alfred feels uncomfortable with her. In a three months Alfred and Violetta are together again. Moreover, they seem to be in love. When Alfred hears that Violette has sold her horses and carriages, he thinks that he lives at her expense and feels again uncomfortable. He leaves for Paris to prevent the sale. Alfred’s family asks Violetta to sacrifice her love for the sake of Alfred’s well-being as they can’t be together because of social inequality. When Alfred returns, he receives the letter from Violetta that she has gone. When Alfred enters salon to look for his beloved women, he sees Violette with another man – Baron Dauphol. Violetta feels uncomfortable Alfred challenges Baron to a duel, but Violetta appeals to him not to fight. Alfred flings Violetta’s portrait to her legs and leaves. In the final act we see that Violetta is dying of consumption. She is informed that Alfred has wounded the Baron and returns to her. Alfred is stricken with remorse when he is told about Violetta’s self-sacrifice and a scene of affecting reconciliation follows. Nevertheless, the ending is rather sad as surrounded by Alfred, medical attendant and Alfred’s father, Violetta dies terminating the tale of sin.
I think that Verdi has featured a strong emotional libretto and powerful source. I revealed that Verdi’s opera is considered to be among the first operas to belong to examples of theatrical realism combining realistic themes and contemporary setting. Verdi was one of the most influential composers in Italia in the 19th century. His works went beyond the works of Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti.
Opera can be defined as a form of dramatic musical work where drama is conveyed through singing. Opera is claimed to be a part of Western classical musical tradition. Opera incorporates acting, costumes, scenery and sometimes even dance. Opera performances are usually given in opera house whereas musical assembles and orchestra accompany musical performance. In Italian the word ‘opera’ means ‘work’. It suggests that the work combines the elements of singing, acting, dancing, declaration and staged spectacle. The firs opera was written by Jacopo Peri – “Dafne”.
If I could attend a live performance of “La Traviata” by Verdi, I would definitely go. Firstly, I’d like to feel emotional strength of singing which conveys emotions, feelings, sorrows, love and death. I think that singing ensures stronger impression than narration as signing brings us to another world, where you become not only spectator, but an active participant. Even if you don’t understand the meanings of the words (in case opera is in Italian), you will understand emotions and feelings of the main heroes. Secondly, I’d like to see real-live performance as “La Traviata” raises eternal themes of social inequality, self-sacrifice, love and passion. Violetta loves Alfred and shed doesn’t want him to abandon the life he used to. I think that Violetta is a tragic hero as she sacrifices her love and life for the sake of her beloved man. Therefore, the opera is really worth of attending.
Warrack, J., & West, E. (1992). The Oxford Dictionary of Opera. Oxford: Oxford University Press.