'La Traviata', Verdi's Take on a Timeless Story, is Saturday's Met Radio Broadcast
Saturday, March 11, 2017
La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi is arguably one of the most performed operas in the history of the art form. In step with its wildly beloved reputation, the tragic tale has been selected as your 1 pm Met Opera Saturday Matinee Broadcast.
There are several angles with which one may approach Verdi’s Fallen Woman, and the timeless nature of its themes of loyalty, love and death are the subject of this week’s episode of He Sang, She Sang. In it, dramaturg Cori Ellison comments the archetypical nature of the character Violetta, whose qualities can be found in tales and that stretch from ancient Sanskrit writings to Sally Bowles to Julia Roberts’ portrayal of Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman.
This particular opera is also notable for its handling of societal expectations and gender roles. Violetta is an unmarriageable courtesan who defies the rules of the day to live out love with the Alfredo, the embodiment of “respectable” society. But Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germont, dissuades Violetta from a life with her son out of fear that her reputation would stain the family name. She complies, and Germont’s eventual realization that Violetta’s affection for Alfredo is genuine and pure makes the story all the more tragic.
La Traviata was also a challenging opera for its day. That a composer would create a work of art from the point of view of a woman — and a courtesan no less — ran counter to the unspoken rule that only those of nobility were to be shown as victims of tragedy. When the opera made its premier in 1853 critics found favor with it, but the audience did not think so highly of the production. After a round of revisions, Verdi premiered it again the following year — to overwhelming success.
Conductor: Nicola Luisotti
Violetta Valéry: Sonya Yoncheva
Alfredo Germont: Michael Fabiano
Giorgio Germont: Thomas Hampson