La traviata

Japan and China Tour, Friday 23 July 2010 - Sunday 1 August 2010


Natalie Dessay (Violetta) in Act I

«Someone else might not have done it, considering the costumes, the times and a myriad of other awkward scruples. I do it with great pleasure. Everyone complained when I proposed a hunchback for the stage. Well, I was happy to compose Rigoletto»: Verdi was certainly not the type of artist to fear a scandal. Thus, when he had to choose the subject for a new opera for Venice in 1852, his preference fell on the controversial work by Alexandre Dumas fils La Dame aux camélias, a real bestseller of the period. Not only was the story indelicate (the true story of the courtesan whom Dumas himself was in love with), but also the very fact of bringing to the stage themes and events that were contemporary, if not experienced, by the same public: dances, costumes, vice and luxury, games and intrigues, the tuberculosis that kills Violetta. The censors in Venice insisted that he antedate the story by a century, and this fact, together with the poor quality of the first cast of singers, probably caused the debut of the opera, at the Fenice on 6 March 1853 to be a fiasco. Only one year later, however, Verdi got his revenge with the triumph of the opera in the same city where it had first failed, and La traviata was on its way to becoming one of the most popular operas of audiences all over the world.

Main data

Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Librettist: Francesco Maria Piave
Year of the first performance: 1853 Venezia, Teatro La Fenice