La Traviata – The Fallen Woman

Poster for the world premiere of La Traviata

The Fallen Woman or La Traviata

La Traviata (Italian: The Fallen Woman) is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi set to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave.

It is based on La Dame aux Camélias (1852), a play adapted from the novel by Alexander Dumas, fils.”The opera was originally titled Violetta, after the main character.

It was first performed on 6 March 1853 at the La Fenice opera house in Venice.” ~ Source Wikipedia

The Story

The plot of La Traviata is fairly straightforward. Violetta is a courtesan (a polite way of calling her a high-priced cal girl). She meets and fals in love with the tenor, Alfredo. They go off to live blissfully (for a while) together in the country. But Alfredo’s father shows up and tells Violetta that by living openly with Alfredo she is ruining the chances of Alfredo’s sister for a successful marriage. After a beautiful duet Germont, Alfredo’s father, wears Violetta down and she agrees to leave Alfredo.

But Alfredo does not know why she has made this sacrifice and turns against Violetta and denounces her before a crowd of people in Act III.

They are finally reconciled at the end of Act IV when Violetta is already dying from that favorite of operatic diseases, consumption (TB).

Is This a Good Opera to Attend?

La Traviata today is one of Verdi’s most popular operas and it is likely that some of the music will be quite familiar to you.

In fact, I would say that La Traviata has some of the most beautiful and accessible music in all of opera.

But at the time of it’s world premiere the opera was not immediately as successful as many of Verdi’s earlier works.

This was mainly because Traviata was set in a period only a few years earlier than the operas composition.

Opera audiences were used to seeing operas set in ancient or historical periods and were jolted to see an opera in a present-day setting.

Many people remember the Great Garbo/Robert Taylor movie Camille, from 1936, which shows up on TV from time to time. This is the same story as La Traviata.

I myself much prefer the musical version by Verdi.