One of the most loved, well-known and performed of Giuseppe Verdi’s operas is transported by the director Alfred Corno and the scenographer Angelo Sala to 1950s Italy, blatantly inspired by Fellini’s dolce vita. The sets show glimpses of period movie cameras filming a blonde Violetta-Anita Ekberg in a black dress, replicating the famous scene in the Trevi Fountain, while the young Alfredo is another actor in the cast. Despite the differences, the libretto by Francesco Maria Piave adapts extraordinarily well and the story proves to be convincing, fascinating and rich with details and citations: the party at Flora's house is a convivial moment in Teatro 5, where extras can be seen who seem to come from La Strada and 8 and a ½, as well as dancers from Satyricon. The epilogue of the story takes place in a melancholy hospital room, the solitude of which chills and renders tragic Violetta’s end.
An opera in three acts
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
Musica by Giuseppe Verdi
First performed: 6 March 1853 at the Teatro La Fenice, Venice
Staged by the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
There is a party at the home of the Parisian courtesan Violetta Valery. The Viscount Gaston de Letorièrs introduces her to Alfredo Germont, who, long infatuated with the hostess, dedicates to her a toast. While the guests move into the ballroom, Violetta, suddenly feeling ill, is forced to stop. Alfredo seizes the moment to declare his love; at first she invites him to forget her, then gives him a flower begging him to return it when it is withered, that is, the following day. Left alone, she reflects on the strange turmoil caused by Alfredo's declaration while from afar, the young man's voice continues to reiterate his love.
The two lovers have been living in the countryside for several months. Alfredo, informed by the maid Annina that Violetta is selling her possessions to pay the bills, hurries to Paris in search of a solution. Meanwhile Giorgio Germont, young Alfredo's father, pays a visit: the family honor is at stake and Alfredo's conduct is threatening the marriage of his sister. Violetta agrees to sacrifice herself and leaves her lover with the excuse of wanting to return to her previous life. Alfredo, consoled by his father, finds an invitation to a party from her friend Flora Bervoix and decides to participate. Violet arrives at the party with the Baron Douphol, her former lover. Alfredo, in front of everyone, announces his intention to settle his debts and throws the money just won at the gaming table at her. Violetta faints and Alfredo, after being scolded by his father, leaves among general contempt.
Violetta rests in her bedroom, watched over by Annina. To her the doctor reveals that her mistress, suffering from tuberculosis, has only a few hours left to live. Violetta, disconsolate, rereads a letter from Germont in which he tells her that he confessed everything to his son. Alfredo finally arrives and the two, embracing, dream of a future together away from Paris; Germont rushes in but it is too late; after having given her portrait to her beloved, Violetta dies.
Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was born in Le Roncole di Busseto, near Parma, on October 10, 1813. He learned the rudiments of music by playing the organ in the local parish and in 1832, thanks to the patronage of Antonio Barezzi he moved to Milan, despite not being admitted to the Conservatory. Oberto conte di San Bonifacio, his first opera, is staged with moderate success at La Scala in 1839 but it is Nabucco, three years later, that is his first great triumph. After many masterpieces, including Ernani (1844) and Macbeth(1847), is born the "popular trilogy": Rigoletto, Il trovatore and La traviata (1851-1853). He reiceived important commissions from abroad: Les vêpres siciliennes (Paris, 1855), La forza del destino (St. Petersburg, 1862), Don Carlos (Paris, 1867) and Aida(Cairo, 1871). After the Requiem Mass (1874), Otello (1887) and Falstaff (1893), he died in Milan on January 27, 1901.