This is Giuseppe Verdi’s most personal opera. The fate of Parisian courtesan Violetta Valéry is a love story that transgressed the social conventions of her time. The composer aimed to show events happening there and then, which were rooted in the double moral standards governing the society: the miserable position of women and the depraving force of money. Consequently, Verdi was greatly inspired by ‘boulevard theatre,’ where plays were informed by everyday life. His second inspiration was the French capital. The source of “La Traviata” is an attack on the moral laissez-faire of Paris. Both the subject and the dramatic tension of the work were ahead of its time, forcing viewers to undergo a katharsis, shattering their peace of mind—consequently, the premiere was a complete flop. However, Verdi’s passionate, moving score secured that “La Traviata” occupied its due place in the history of the genre, and is still performed with success at the greatest scenes of the world.
The opera is set in 19th-century Paris. Towards the end of her short life, young courtesan Violetta Valéry falls in love with the poet Alfredo Germont, who professes his love to her during a ball. However, Alfredo’s father stands in the lovers’ path, worried that his son is about to lose his good reputation. The distraught Violetta, aware of being terminally ill, decides to abandon her beloved for his own good. She dies in solitude and poverty.
The dramatic idea behind the performance is based on two contrasting images: group scenes showing carnival processions and games are interspersed with the intimate, private space of the protagonist’s home. Among toasts and celebrations, Violetta is struggling to find moral peace. The opera’s interpretation focuses on the tragedy of the young woman as she prepares for her impending death. The opera’s premiere celebrated the composer’s 200th birthday. This is the first post-war production of “La Traviata” in Poland performed with the use of a cimbasso.
World premiere: 6 III 1853, Gran Teatro La Fenice, Venice
Premiere: 20 XII 2013