Saturday, March 30, 2013
La Traviata, The Story
In her Paris salon, the courtesan Violetta Valéry welcomes her guests, among them Flora Bervoix, Marquis d'Obigny, Baron Douphol and Gastone, who introduces a new admirer, Alfredo Germont. The latter, confessing that he has adored Violetta from afar, offers a toast at her request; she joins him in the salute to pleasure. As her guests move into the ballroom, Violetta, suddenly feeling faint, remains behind. Alfredo returns, concerned about her, and ardently declares his love. At first, Violetta protests that love means nothing to her, but Alfredo's sincerity touches her, and she gives him a camellia, her symbol, promising that he may return to see her when the flower has withered. After her guests have gone, Violetta wonders if Alfredo could be the man to fulfill her dream of love. Dismissing this as folly, she asserts her need for freedom, as Alfredo's voice is heard outside, repeating his paean to love.
Some months later, in a country villa near Paris, where he now lives with Violetta, Alfredo muses upon his contentment. When the maid, Annina, reveals that Violetta has been selling her belongings to pay their expenses, Alfredo is filled with shame. Resolving to settle their affairs at his own cost, he departs for the city. Violetta comes looking for him and finds an invitation from Flora to a party that night. She puts it aside, having given up her former life. Alfredo's father appears unexpectedly, demanding that Violetta renounce his son; the scandal of Alfredo's liaison threatens his sister's engagement. Violetta at first refuses, but when Germont suggests that the fleeting charms of youth are her sole appeal for Alfredo, she agrees to make the sacrifice. After Germont departs, Violetta sends a message accepting Flora's invitation, then begins a farewell note to Alfredo. He enters suddenly, surprising her; hiding the note, she tearfully reaffirms her love, then rushes away. Before long, a messenger brings her letter to Alfredo. Germont returns to console his despairing son with recollections of family life in Provence. But Alfredo, seeing Flora's invitation, concludes that Violetta has abandoned him for another lover and determines to confront her.