VERDI: La Traviata — Lisbon 1958

Music composed by Giuseppe Verdi. Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave after La dame aux CamÈlias (1848) by Alexandre Dumas, fils (based on the life of Dumas’ putative mistress, Marie Duplessis (aka Alphonsine Plessis)).

First Performance: 6 March 1853, Teatro La Fenice,

Principal Roles:
Violetta Valery Soprano
Flora Bervoix Mezzo-Soprano
Annina Soprano
Alfredo Germont Tenor
Giorgio Germont, suo padre Baritone
Gastone, visconte de Letorieres Tenor
Barone Douphol Baritone
Marchese d’Obigny Bass
Dottore Grenvil Bass
Giuseppe, servo di Violetta Tenor
Domestico di Flora Bass
Commissario Bass

Setting: In and around Paris, about 1850.


Act I

The salon in Violetta’s house

Violetta ValÈry, a famed courtesan, throws a lavish party at her Paris
salon to celebrate her recovery from an illness. Gastone, a count, has
brought with him his friend, the young nobleman Alfredo Germont, who has long
adored Violetta from afar. While walking to the salon, Gastone tells Violetta
that Alfredo loves her, and that while she was ill, he came to her house
every day. Alfredo joins them, admitting the truth of Gastone’s remarks.
Violetta replies to Alfredo, “I’m indebted to you”.

The Baron waits nearby to escort Violetta to the salon, but she walks to
him saying, “You, Baron, never cared as much”. The Baron replies, “I have
just known you for a year”. Violetta glares at Alfredo and says, “He just met
me a minute ago!”. At the salon, the Baron is asked to give a toast, but he
refuses and the crowd turns to Alfredo (Alfredo, Violetta, chorus: Libiamo
ne’ lieti calici — “Drinking song”).

From the next room, the orchestra begins to play and the guests move there
to dance. Violetta feels dizzy and asks the guests to go ahead and to leave
her to rest for a while to recover. The Baron leaves her alone. The guests
dance in the next room, while Violetta looks at her face in her mirror. She
looks pale. Alfredo enters and he expresses his concern for her fragile
health and later declares his love for her (Alfredo, Violetta: Un dÏ, felice,
eterea — “The day I met you”).

At first Violetta rejects him because his love means nothing of importance
to her. However, there is something about Alfredo that touches her heart.
Alfredo is about to leave when she gives him a flower, telling him to return
it when it has wilted. She promises to meet him the next day.

After the guests leave, Violetta wonders if Alfredo could actually be the
one in her life (Violetta: Ah, fors’Ë lui — “Perhaps he is the one”).
But she concludes that she needs freedom to live her life (Violetta: Sempre
libera — “Always free”). From off stage, Alfredo’s voice is heard
singing about love as he walks down the street.

Act II

Scene 1: Violetta’s country house outside Paris

Three months later, Alfredo and Violetta are living together in a peaceful
country house outside Paris. Violetta has fallen in love with Alfredo and she
has completely abandoned her former life. Alfredo sings of their happy life
together (Alfredo: Di miei bollenti spiriti — “Wild my dream of
ecstasy”). Annina, the maid, arrives from Paris, and, when questioned by
Alfredo, she tells him that she went there to sell the horses, carriages and
everything owned by Violetta to support their country lifestyle.

Alfredo is shocked to learn this and leaves for Paris immediately to
settle matters himself. Violetta returns home and receives an invitation from
her friend, Flora, inviting her to a party in Paris. Alfredo’s father,
Giorgio Germont, is announced and demands that, for the sake of his family,
she break off her relationship with his son. He is reluctantly impressed by
Violetta’s nobility, which is not what he expected from a courtesan.
Giorgio reveals that Violetta’s relationship with Alfredo has
threatened his daughter’s engagement (Giorgio: Pura siccome un angelo
— “I have a daughter as pure as an angel”) because of Violetta’s
reputation as a courtesan . While she says that she cannot break off her
relationship with Alfredo because she loves him so much, Giorgio pleads with
her for the sake of his family. With growing remorse in her heart, she
finally agrees (Violetta, Giorgio: Dite alla giovine — “Say to this
child of thine”). She bids farewell to Giorgio. Giorgio kisses her forehead
in a gesture of gratitude for her kindness and sacrifice, before leaving her
weeping alone.

Violetta gives a note to Annina to send to Flora as acceptance of the
party invitation. As she is writing a farewell letter to Alfredo, he enters.
She can barely control her sadness and tears; she tells him repeatedly of her
unconditional love (Violetta: Amami Alfredo — “I love you, Alfredo”) before
rushing out and handing the farewell letter to her servant to give to

The servant gives the farewell letter to Alfredo. As soon as he finishes
reading it, Giorgio comes in and attempts to comfort his son, reminding him
of his family in Provence (Giorgio: Di Provenza il mar — “In
Provence”). Alfredo suspects the Baron is behind his separation with Violetta
and the party invitation, which he finds on the desk, strengthens his
suspicions. He determines to confront Violetta at the party. Giorgio tries to
stop Alfredo, but he rushes out.

Scene 2: Party at Flora’s house

At the party, the Marquis tells Flora that Violetta and Alfredo have
separated. She calls for the entertainers to perform for the guests (Chorus:
Noi siamo zingarelle — “We’re gypsies gay and youthful”);
(Chorus: Di Madride noi siam mattadori — “We are bullfighters from
Madrid”). Gastone and his friends join the matadors and sing (Gastone,
chorus, dancers: E Piquillo, un bel gagliardo — “Twas Piquillo, so
young and so daring”).

Violetta arrives with Baron Douphol. They see Alfredo at the gambling
table, and upon seeing them, Alfredo creates a big scene about his winning.
The Baron feels annoyed. He goes to the gambling table and challenges him.
Alfredo wins some large sums of money from the Baron until Flora announces
that the supper is ready. Alfredo leaves with handfuls of money.

Everyone goes in to supper, but Violetta has asked Alfredo to see her.
Fearing that the Baron’s anger will lead him to challenge Alfredo to a duel,
she gently asks Alfredo to leave. Alfredo misunderstands her apprehension and
demands that she admit that she loves the Baron. In grief, she does so. Her
confession makes Alfredo furious and he calls the guests to witness what he
has to say. Alfredo humiliates and denounces Violetta in front of the guests,
and then throws his winnings at her for her “services” while they lived
together (Questa donna conoscete?). She falls, fainting onto the floor. The
guests reprimand Alfredo: “Leave at once, we despise you. You have insulted a
noble lady”.

In search of his son, Giorgio enters the hall. Knowing the real
significance of the scene, he denounces his son’s behavior (Giorgio, Alfredo,
Violetta, chorus: Di sprezzo degno, se stesso rendo — “Worthy of
contempt is the man”).

Flora and the ladies attempt to persuade Violetta to leave the dining
room, but, before doing so, Violetta turns to Alfredo and sings, Alfredo,
Alfredo, di questo core non puoi comprendere tutto l’amore —
“Alfredo, Alfredo, little canst thou fathom the love within my heart for


Violetta’s bedroom

Dr. Grenvil tells Annina that Violetta will not live long as her
tuberculosis has worsened. Alone in her room, Violetta reads a letter sent by
Alfredo’s father saying the Baron was only wounded in his duel with
Alfredo. The letter also states that he has informed Alfredo of the sacrifice
Violetta made for him and his sister; and that he is sending his son to see
her as quickly as possible to ask for her forgiveness. But Violetta senses it
is too late (Violetta: Addio del passato — “So closes my sad

Annina rushes in the room to tell Violetta of the arrival of Alfredo. The
lovers are reunited. Alfredo suggests that they leave Paris (Alfredo,
Violetta: Parigi, o cara , noi lasceremo — “Dearest, we’ll leave
Paris” ).

But it is too late; she knows her time is up (Alfredo, Violetta: Gran Dio!
morir si giovane — “O, God! to die so young”). The old Germont enters
(Ah, Violetta) with the doctor. He regrets what he has done. Shortly after,
Violetta dies in Alfredo’s arms.

[Synopsis Source: Wikipedia]

Click here for the complete libretto.

image_description=Maria Callas as Violetta (La Traviata)
first_audio_name=Giuseppe Verdi: La Traviata
product_title=Giuseppe Verdi: La Traviata
product_by=Alfredo: Alfredo Kraus; Annina: Maria Cristina de Castro; Commissario: Manuel Leitao; Douphol: Alvaro Malta; Flora: Laura Zannini; Gastone: Piero di Palma; Germont: Mario Sereni; Grenvil: Alessandro Maddalena; Obigny: Vito Susca; Violetta: Maria Callas. Coro do Teatro Nacional de S„o Carlos. Orquestra SinfÛnica Nacional. Franco Ghione, conducting. Live performance, 27 March 1958, Teatro Nacional de S„o Carlos, Lisbon.