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Opera in three acts
libretto by Francesco Maria Piave based on Alexandre Dumas' play La Dame aux camélias (1848)
First performed March 6 1853, Teatro La Fenice, Venice
Sung in Italian with German surtitles
Introductory talk, in German, begins half an hour before performances in the Holzfoyer
Violetta Valéry, a demimondaine recovering after a lengthy illness, is throwing a party at her house in Paris. The guests include her doctor, Grenvil, Flora Bervoix, Marquis d’Obigny, her patron, Baron Douphol, and Gaston Vicomte de Letorière. Gaston has brought his friend Alfredo Germont along, who has loved Violetta from afar for some time. He sings of love, while Violetta praises enjoyment. When everyone goes into the next room to dance, Alfredo remains behind with Violetta, who suddenly felt faint. He is concerned about her health. She laughs off his declarations of love, but gives him a camellia; telling him to bring it back the next day when it has wilted. Dawn is breaking. The party is over and the guests go home. Violetta realises that her encounter with Alfredo has moved her deeply. When she hears him singing outside, she decides to abandon herself to the exhilarating euphoria of pleasure once more. Act 2, sc. 1 Winter. Violetta and Alfredo now live together in a country house, not far from Paris. Alfredo finds out from Annina, Violetta's housekeeper, that she intends to sell all she possesses to maintain their life in the country. He is determined to prevent this. Alfredo's father Giorgio Germont arrives, to take his son home. He tells Violetta that Alfredo's openly living with somebody of lower status is putting his daughter's forthcoming marriage in jeopardy. Violetta realises that her attempt to put her past behind her has failed. Although she knows she does not have much time to live, she bends to Germont's wishes that she leave Alfredo – on condition that, after her death, he be told about what she has sacrificed. Violetta sends word to the baron, via Annina, that she is coming back to him, and will accompany him to Flora's party that evening. She leaves in an emotional state when Alfredo comes home, letting him find out from a letter delivered by a messenger that she has left him. She hurries to Paris. Germont tries, in vain, to console his son and persuade him return to the bosom of his family. When Alfredo finds Flora's invitation to the party, he guesses where he can find Flora, and follows her. Act 2, sc. 2 Gaston has arranged for a masquerade to be performed at Flora's party: gypsies, predicting the future, and Spanish bull fighters. Alfredo arrives, to everyone's surprise, as the guests go to play cards. Violetta, who then enters with the baron, is horrified. Alfredo wins a lot of money from the baron at cards. After, in a moment alone, he asks Violetta, in vain, to come back to him, Alfredo embarrasses her in front of all present in a humiliating manner: He pays her back for what she has spent on him by throwing his winnings at her feet. Giorgio Germont, who witnessed this, rebukes his son. Everyone reproaches him. Violetta says nothing about the reason for her behaviour, despite her misery. Alfredo regrets his actions; the baron challenges him to a duel. Act 3 Annina, nursing Violetta, finds out from Dr. Grevil that her mistress is dying. The doctor has not told his patient this. Violetta sends Annina for the post. Giorgio Germont has written to say that Alfredo went abroad after wounding the baron in the duel. Alfredo, informed by his father about everything that passed between them, wants to come and find Violetta – with his father – and ask for forgiveness. She senses that it is too late. A carvinal is taking place on the streets of Paris, while she takes leave from life. Violetta's hopes rise when Alfredo arrives. She wants to go outside, but is too weak. Germont realises how great her sacrifice was. The doctor, summoned by Annina, can do no more. Violetta gives Alfredo her portrait, telling him that one day, when he marries another, he should tell his future wife of her selfless actions. She dies.
Verdi's Il corsaro is hardly ever performed so when Dorothea Röschmann & Roberta Mantegna cancelled because of illness it became clear that it would be impossible to find one, let alone two, singers to replace them so - a decision had to be taken quickly and a smashing cast got together for Il Traviata instead. The previous production of this work at Oper Frankfurt, which was last performed six years ago, no longer exists. La traviata is the last in the composer's so called Trilogia popolare (following on from Rigoletto and Il trovatore), which cemented his status as a leading composer.
The Italian conductor Francesco Lanzillotta is making his eagerly awaited house debut conducting three former members of the ensemble now enjoying international careers in the lead roles: Brenda Rae, Mario Chang & Željko Lučić.
Tickets already purchased for Il corsaro remain valid, or can be exchanged, within the next four weeks, for tickets for something else.