La Traviata

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I’ve never seen live opera, but I just came back from seeing Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata at our local cinema – broadcast from the Royal Opera House .

The cast included

Ermonela Jaho as ViolettaValery.

Charles Castronovo as Alfredo Germont.

Placido Domingo as Georgia Germont.

The story tells the fortune of Violetta and Alfredo. Violetta is a Parisian courtesan. Alfredo is introduced to her at a party and they fall in love. Violetta has been suffering from tuberculosis and they decide to move to a country house where Alfredo can look after her.

Alfredo doesn’t know that Violetta is selling her possessions so they can afford pay their bills. When he finds out he goes off to Paris to try and raise funds himself.

In the meantime Giorgio, Alfredo’s father, arrives and asks Violetta to leave his son because his daughter is due to marry. Alfredo’s affair with Violetta would cause scandle and prevent the marriage. She begs the father to comfort his son when she has left. Then when Alfredo returns she asks him to promise he will always love her. She leaves the house and sends him a note to say she had gone.

Alfredo goes to Paris to try and find Violetta. He goes to a lavish party and gambles. Violetta and a baron who is involved with her arrive. Alfredo beats him at cards. Alfredo asks Violetta to come back to the country with him but she says no, so he throws his winnings at her and tells her that is to pay her back for the money she has spent. He has a duel with the Baron who is injured. Alfredo leaves Paris.

In the final act Violetta is dying of tuberculosis in a run down house in Paris. She sends her maid to watch the carnival and in the meantime reads a letter which Giorgio has sent her. It tells her that he has told the truth to his son and that Alfredo is coming to see her. Then her maid returns with Alfredo, she is ecstatic and suddenly feels much better but then collapses and dies in Alfredo’s arms.

The music is gorgeous, swooping, life affirming. I cannot explain how superb the singing was. Seeing Placido Domingo singing as the father Giorgio was wonderful. There was so much character and warmth in his voice. Charles Castronovo sang with gentleness and love. He was tender and fierce in turn as Alfredo. But above all Ermonela Jaho’s Violetta was outstanding, excellent. She not only sang the part beautifully but her acting was so intense.

I am so glad that I went. If there is another performance I will go again.

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