La Traviata, Opera by G. Verdi
The name of the Italian master, Giuseppe Verdi, is synonymous with opera. He penned twenty six during the course of his long life and today his works are heard more often in theatres around the world than those written by any other composer.
La Traviata was not an immediate success. The audience did not find the original casting credible and both cheers and jeers marked its premiere in Venice on 6 March 1853. Verdi himself was no doubt frustrated by the refusal of the state censor for the opera to be staged in a contemporary setting as he had intended. Happily no such restrictions now apply and La Traviata has become the most performed and possibly the most popular of all of Verdi’s compositions.
The story of La Traviata is a triumph of true love over the hypocrisy of bourgeois social mores and perhaps explains why this opera, with its modern day sentiments, has endured. Violetta, a courtesan who is dying of tuberculosis, falls for a nobleman called Alfredo. Alfredo’s father, Germont, deems the relationship to be an unsuitable match and resorts to emotional blackmail to persuade Violetta to break up with his son. Later realising the error of his ways and the distress he has caused, he reveals his deception to the two lovers in time for them to be reconciled shortly before Violetta passes away.
The National Theatre in Prague is delighted to stage La Traviata; the opera shows off not just Verdi’s innate talent for melody, wonderfully captured by the heartfelt aria “Sempre libera”, but also his capacity for writing music that faithfully supports both the narrative and the characterisation of the protagonists.