Verdi – La Traviata, Act I

by Max Derrickson

Giuseppe Verdi

La Traviata, Act I

La Traviata, premiered in 1853 inVenice, is one of Verdi’s best loved operas, because of the exceptional quality of the music, and the attractiveness of the sensational story, set inParis in the 1840’s. The Prelude of the opera opens with a haunting strain that foreshadows the impending tragedy of Violetta Valery. ┬áHer character and the story is based on the real life figure from Paris, Marie Duplessis, a ravishing courtesan who lived and loved exuberantly. Of her many courtiers, Alexander Dumas is the most renowned.

Act 1 opens in the parlor of Violetta’s house, where a splendid party is being held. Upon greeting some of her guests, Violetta is introduced to Alfredo Germont. Violetta is informed that Alfredo has loved her from afar for some time, and is said to have called on her every day during a recent illness. This is a devotion and tenderness that Violetta is not familiar with. As the party progresses, songs are sung and the merriment becomes contagious. When Violetta suggests
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But for Violetta, a life of wantonness and shallow relationships draws her away from the ruminations of true love with Alfredo, and she reverts comfortably to her light-hearted companions.