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Verdi's La Traviata

Ann Netrebko (Violetta). Photo: Catherine Ashmore

Anna Netrebko (Violetta) Photo:Catherine Ashmore

From the Royal Opera House

Saturday 9 February 2008 18:30-21:10 (Radio 3)

Based on a play by Alexandre Dumas the younger, Verdi's La Traviata tells the tragic story of Violetta, the consumptive courtesan, whose bid for true love finds her pitilessly rejected by the society that once rejoiced in her debauched parties.

This critically acclaimed Royal Opera House production is led by a stellar cast including Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, tenor Jonas Kaufmann and baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky.

Sean Rafferty presents from the Royal Opera House in conversation with writer and opera critic Alexandra Wilson.

Duration:

2 hours 40 minutes

CAST AND SYNOPSIS

Violetta Valery ...... Ann Netrebko (soprano)
Flora Bervoix ...... Monika-Evelin Liiv (mezzo-soprano)
Marquis d'Obigny ...... Kostas Smoriginas (bass-baritone)
Baron Douphoi ...... Eddie Wade (baritone)
Doctor Grenvil ...... Mark Beesley (bass)
Gastone de Letorieres ...... Ji-Min Park (tenor)
Alfredo Germont ...... Jonas Kaufmann (tenor)
Giuseppe ...... Neil Gillespie (tenor)
Giorgio Germont ...... Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone)
Messenger ...... Charbel Mattar (bass)
Servant ...... Jonathan Coad (bass)

Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Maurizio Benini (conductor)

Act I

A salon in Violetta's house; August Violetta greets her party guests, among whom is Flora, with her escort, the Marquis d'Obigny. Gastone introduces Alfredo Germont to Violetta and tells her that Alfredo thinks of her constantly and called on her anxiously each day during her recent illness. Gastone, seconded by Violetta, calls for a toast. Alfredo responds with a song in praise of wine and pleasure (Libiamo ne' lieti calici) and everyone joins in. Music is heard from another room and Violetta invites her guests to dance. Suddenly she feels unsteady and tells the others to go on without her. Alfredo stays behind; he warns her that her present way of life will kill her. He offers to look after her, admitting that he has loved her since he first saw her over a year ago (Un di felice, eterea). Violetta replies lightheartedly that she does not know how to love: he should forget her. She gives him a camellia, telling him to return it to her when it has faded; hoping that will be the next day, he leaves, saying he loves her. As dawn approaches, the other guests depart. Alone, Violetta reflects on Alfredo's unexpected declaration of love (E strano! e strano!) and on her feelings for him (Ah fors'e lui), then abandons such serious thoughts, recalling that she is destined for a life of pleasure (Sempre libera degg'io). Alfredo's voice is heard from outside. 

Act II

Scene 1 A country house near Paris; the following January Alfredo reflects on the three idyllic months he has now spent with Violetta (Dei miei bollenti spiriti). Annina arrives and tells Alfredo that she was sent to Paris by Violetta, who has been selling her belongings to pay for their life together. Alfredo resolves to raise the money himself, expressing remorse that he did not realize the true situation (Oh mio rimorso!). He leaves. Violetta enters, learns that Alfredo has gone, and says that she is expecting a businessman to visit shortly. She opens an invitation to a party at Flora's that evening. Germont arrives, announces himself as Alfredo's father and accuses Violetta of ruining his son. He is shocked to discover that it is in fact she who is supporting the couple. He then tells her of the plight of his beloved daughter (Pura siccome un angelo), whose forthcoming marriage is jeopardized by Alfredo's scandalous liaison with Violetta, and begs Violetta to leave Alfredo so that he can return to his family. Violetta confesses to Germont her overwhelming love, revealing the seriousness of her illness and her dependence on Alfredo (Non sapete quale affetto). Germont is unmoved and says she is bound to find other men to love. Grief-stricken, Violetta finally agrees to make the sacrifice (Dite alla giovine), asking Germont to embrace her as his daughter and to comfort Alfredo when she has gone. She wants Germont, after she dies, to tell Alfredo the real reason for her leaving him. Germont goes. Violetta scribbles a note and gives it to Annina to deliver, then begins Synopsis another, to Alfredo. She is interrupted by his return. He is disturbed at her agitated state and concerned that his father should have visited. Violetta, now in despair at her promise, wants reassurance of Alfredo's love for her (Amami, Alfredo) before she runs away. A passer-by brings Alfredo Violetta's letter saying she is abandoning him. Germont appears and tries to comfort his son, reminding him nostalgically of his home in Provence (Di Provenza il mar, il suol). But Alfredo is inconsolable (No, non udrai rimproveri). Seeing Flora's invitation, he assumes Violetta has gone to the party and swears to avenge himself.

Scene 2 A salon in Flora's house Flora's guests chat and gamble at her party. She and her new lover discuss the separation of Alfredo and Violetta. A group of guests dressed as gypsies sing and some real gypsies dance, followed by Gastone and friends disguised as matadors. Alfredo arrives and joins a game of cards, playing recklessly and commenting that his luck at the table is better than his fortune in love. He feigns disinterest at seeing Violetta with Baron Douphol but provokes the Baron into challenging him at cards.While Violetta privately expresses her anguish, the two men gamble. The Baron loses, swearing revenge, and everyone goes off to supper. Violetta returns, having sent Alfredo a message asking him to join her.When he appears, she begs him to escape from the Baron's wrath and he agrees to leave if she will swear to follow him. Remembering her oath to Germont, she tells Alfredo that she cannot go with him and that she now loves the Baron. In fury, Alfredo summons the guests and, flinging his winnings at Violetta, asks everyone to witness that he has paid her back for their time together. Violetta faints. The guests rebuke Alfredo, and Germont, who has arrived unobserved, renounces his son. Everyone expresses their reactions to the situation: Germont is reproachful; Alfredo is distressed and remorseful; Violetta, despairingly and privately, begs Alfredo to understand her distress, vowing her undying love for him; the Baron swears to avenge the insult to Violetta. 

Act III

Violetta's bedroom; February Violetta is desperately ill and is being nursed by Annina. Doctor Grenvil visits and offers her encouragement but quietly tells Annina that Violetta has only a few hours to live. Violetta urges Annina to join the Carnival festivities outside and to take half of Violetta's money to give to the poor. Alone, Violetta reads a letter from Germont explaining that Alfredo, who fled the country after wounding the Baron in a duel, now knows of her sacrifice and is coming to beg her to pardon him (Teneste la promessa). Violetta knows that all hope for her has faded and says farewell to past dreams, praying for God's forgiveness (Addio, del passato). The Carnival can be heard. Annina hurries in to tell Violetta of Alfredo's approach. He falls into her arms, imploring her to forgive him and his father. They plan a new life, away from Paris (Parigi, o cara), and Violetta wants them to go to church to thank God for Alfredo's return. But Violetta is now too weak to get up. In despair that she will die so young (Gran Dio! morir si giovane), she briefly rallies. Germont appears, with Annina and the doctor, and embraces her. Violetta gives Alfredo a locket containing her portrait, telling him that if he marries he must give it to his bride (Prendi: quest'e l'immagine). Violetta feels a sudden rush of life as her pain eases. But she collapses, dead.

İRoyal Opera House

Playlist:

Violetta Valery ...... Anna Netrebko (soprano)
Flora Bervoix ...... Monika-Evelin Liiv (mezzo-soprano)
Marquis d'Obigny ...... Kostas Smoriginas (bass-baritone)
Baron Douphol ...... Eddie Wade (baritone)
Doctor Grenvil ...... Mark Beesley (bass)
Gastone de Letorieres ...... Ji-Min Park (tenor)
Alfredo Germont ...... Jonas Kaufmann (tenor)
Giuseppe ...... Neil Gillespie (tenor)
Giorgio Germont ...... Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone)
Messenger ...... Charbel Mattar (bass)
Servant ...... Jonathan Coad (bass)
Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Maurizio Benini (conductor)




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