Saturday 24 December 2011

La traviata at The Royal Opera House

I was back at The Royal Opera House for La traviata in the evening with The Royal Opera performing Verdi's classic opera. This was another opportunity to experience the magical atmosphere at this historic Covent Garden venue.

La traviata is is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi set to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave based on Alexandre Dumas Fils's play La dame aux Camelias. The title means The Fallen Woman and was originally entitled Violetta.

In Act I Violetta Valery greets party guests at her Paris salon which include Flora with her escort the Marquis d'Obigny. Gastone introduces Alfredo Germont to Violetta and tells her that Alfredo called on her anxiously each day during her recent illness. Everyone joins in a song in praise of wine and pleasure called Libiamo ne' lieti calici.

Music is heard from another room and Violetta invites her guests to dance. Suddenly she feels unsteady and tells the others to go on without her. Alfredo stays behind and confesses his love for Violetta who protests that love means nothing to her. While alone Violetta reflects on Alfredo's unexpected declaration of love but recalls that she is destined for a life of pleasure.

Act 2 begins with Alfredo reflecting on three idyllic months he has now spent with Violetta at a country house near Paris. Annina arrives to tell Alfredo that she was sent to Paris by Violetta who has been selling her belongings to pay for their life together. Alfredo's father Germont arrives and accuses Violetta of ruining his son. He is shocked to find out that she is supporting the couple. Germont begs Violetta to leave Alfredo as their liaison is putting his daughter's forthcoming marriage into jeopardy and eventually she agrees.

Violetta scibbles a note and gives it to Annina and begins another to Alfredo but is interrupted by his return. Violetta wants reassurance of Alfredo's love for her before she runs away. Alfredo is comforted by his Father but he is inconsolable and goes to Flora's party and swears to avenge himself. At the party Flora and her new lover discuss the seperation of Alfredo and Violetta while a group of guests dressed as gypsies sing and some real gypsies dance.

Alfredo challenged Baron Douphol to a game of cards which the Baron loses and swears revenge. Violetta begs Alfredo to escape from the Baron's wrath and he agrees if she follows him. She tells Alfredo that she cannot go with him because she now loves the Baron. In anger he flings his winnings at Violetta and tells everyone he has paid back for their time together. The Baron swears to avenge the insult to Violetta.

In Act III Violetta is desperately ill and has only a few hours to live. She reads a letter from Germont explaining that Alfredo who fled the country after wounding the Baron in a duel and is coming to beg her to pardon him. Alfredo arrives and falls into Violetta's arms asking her to forgive him and his father. Violetta rallies briefly and gives Alfredo a locket containing her portrait telling him that if he marries he must give it to his bride she then collapses and dies.

The whole cast gave a splendid performance especially Ailyn Perez who played Violetta Valery. Piotr Beczala was outstanding as Alfredo which gave the magic of Verdi something special to make this an evening to remember. A night of laughter and tears that moved everyone at The Royal Opera House.

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