La Traviata, Opera by G. Verdi
At a glamorous party in 19th-century Paris, Violetta Valery raises a glass to happiness, good times and love. The attractive and intriguing courtesan, the talk of Parisian high society, does not suspect that the innocent and profound feelings of the young nobleman Alfredo Germont are about to melt her cynical heart. Their love story is at the core of La Traviata, one of the best known and most successful operas by the great Giuseppe Verdi. Rome’s I Virtuosi dell’opera di Roma stage a wonderful performance of the legendary work at St Paul’s Within the Walls Church or at Teatro Salone Margherita, depending on the performance date. The unique atmosphere of the venues and the ensemble’s talents make this Verdi revival a must-see event for classical music lovers in the Eternal City.
Although it now ranks among the most famous operas in the repertoire, La Traviata did not have an auspicious start. Its premiere at Teatro La Fenice in Venice on 6 March 1853 was a minor failure: a whole opera dedicated to a courtesan’s affairs and the casting of a voluptuous middle-aged soprano in the role of Violetta proved unfortunate for critics and audiences alike. However, Verdi stuck by his work and subsequent performances established La Traviata as a magnum opus in the genre. His compositional genius undoubtedly played a major role in the opera’s success. Staying true to his style of musical narration, Verdi almost made the orchestra into a major character, allowing instrumental passages to build up tension and drive the action forward. The vocal highlights include the famous brindisi ‘Libiamo ne’lieti calici’, Violetta’s tender ‘Un di felice, eterea’ juxtaposed with the powerful ‘Sempre libera’, and Alfredo’s intense ‘O mio rimorso’.
To write up the love story between Violetta and Alfredo for the opera stage, librettist Francesco Maria Piave drew from La dame aux camelias by Alexandre Dumas, who himself based his text on the mercurial life of Marie Duplessis. This season, I Virtuosi dell’opera di Roma put on a fittingly dazzling rendition of Verdi’s classic opera.