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La Traviata

Updated: Sep 21, 2021


By Verdi



[This synopsis, like my others, is very, very brief. The reason is that I find the normal programme note much too long, and needlessly detailed and complicated. What I want is more of an overview. If I’ve read an overview – a sort of synopsis of a synopsis – I find that, particularly with the help of surtitles, there is then absolutely no need for a blow-by-blow description of the plot.]



It’s the tragic story of a courtesan who falls in love with a member of bourgeois society and whose love affair is destroyed by the pressures of traditional bourgeois morality.


The bourgeois Alfredo pursues the courtesan Violetta, who falls in love with him and gives up her hedonistic life. They start living happily together, in the country away from the bright lights.


This is challenged by Alfredo’s father Germont. He explains to Violetta that the engagement of his daughter won’t survive the scandal of Violetta’s relationship with her brother. He pleads with her to give up Alfredo. She gives in to him and goes back to her former life.


Alfredo thinks, wrongly, that this is caused by her former aristocratic lover, the Baron Douphol. Alfredo invades a party at which Violetta is with the Baron. A quarrel breaks out, as well as a misunderstanding between Alfredo and Violetta. In a rage, Alfredo throws a pile of money at the feet of Violetta, implying that it is payment for her services. Violetta is distraught and faints.


Violetta has been suffering from consumption (tuberculosis to us). This gets worse and she lies on her deathbed. Before she dies, Germont has explained the reality to Alfredo and they are briefly united - as she dies.



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