La traviata
music by Giuseppe Verdi
libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
from the play La dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas, fils

The Story of La traviata

At a party in a salon of Violetta’s house in Paris, Alfredo, who has come with Gastone, is introduced to the hostess, whose charm and beauty have enchanted him. As the evening progresses, the guests withdraw into an adjoining room to dance. Violetta, suffering from the early stages of consumption, feels faint and remains behind. Alfredo stays with her, expressing first his concern, then his love for Violetta. After the guests have left, she reflects on this new love that has entered her life and is torn by its impact on her.

ACT II, Scene I
Violetta has forsaken her former life and friends and is living happily with Alfredo in a small country house near Paris. Alfredo is upset when he learns from Annina that Violetta has been selling her jewelry to help pay their expenses and goes to Paris to get some money with which to repay her. Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father, arrives to persuade Violetta that she must abandon Alfredo. Their liaison is not only damaging his son’s life, but has also jeopardized his daughter’s forthcoming marriage. Left alone, Violetta writes a note of farewell to Alfredo, but her lover returns before she has finished. She hides the letter and conceals her plans. Alfredo tells her that he has heard his father is coming to visit them and, on the pretext that the two men should be left alone, Violetta leaves. She send the letter back to Alfredo by messenger. When Germont returns, he finds his son in despair and vainly tries to console him.

ACT II, Scene 2
Alfredo returns to Paris in search of Violetta and finds her with her old companion, Baron Douphol, at a ball given by Violetta’s friend, Flora. Alfredo, who has been winning heavily at the gambling table, is challenged by Douphol to a game and adds still further to his winnings. Soon the guest go to supper and Violetta, deperately fearing a duel between the two men, begs Alfredo to leave the party. He bitterly accuses her of faithlessness which, remembering her promise to Germont, she does not deny. Alfredo calls the guest back and denounces her before them all, throwing his winnings at her feet and proclaiming his debt to her paid in full. Germont, looking for his son, arrives in time to witness the scene. He alone is aware of the tragic background of what has happened, but for the sake of his son and daughter cannot reveal it.

Violetta has been confined to bed by the ravages of consumption and, despite her doctor’s reassurances, knows she has only a short time to live. Her only hope comes from a letter of apology from Germont who hopes to undo the damage he has done and writes that Alfredo is returning to ask her forgiveness, although Violetta fears he will be too late. Alfredo rushes in and, in the joy of the reunion, they plan to leave Paris for the country. Her recovery is only temporary, however, and, as Germont and the doctor arrive, Violetta dies in Alfredo’s arms.

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