Text by – EDOARDO RIGHINI
Duration: 2 hours and 40 minutes including intermission.
Birth: 6th March 1853
La Traviata, along with Rigoletto and Il Trovatore, form a trilogy often described as “popular” or even “romantic”, although inappropriately, both because of the (apparent) simplicity of the plot and ease of its musical style. In this trilogy you can clearly see the often critical and analytical eye of the author, Giuseppe Verdi.
La Traviata is the work of “Libiamo nei lieti calici”, just to put it into perspective.
First and foremost, a love story.
After all, what better way to excite an audience and ensure success at the box office? It’s like any other love story that wants to make way for itself, a troubled love, an impossible love. Violetta loves Alfredo (“Amami Alfredo”) and Alfredo loves Violetta.
The problem is that for a living, Violetta relies on others, a modern day escort.
Alfredo is madly in love with her and adores her although they have been apart for more than a year.
Finally, during a party, he gets the chance to known her and confess his love.
Initially, accustomed to look at love from a market price stand point, refuses Alfredo, but inevitably ends up falling in love with him.
If the story ended there, it would be the best of all worlds.
But something obviously has to go wrong and gives the final death blow to the happiness of the two lovers, and those things are, in order, social conventions and tuberculosis.
Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germont, in fact, accuses Violetta of being with his son for personal interest and asks her to demonstrate her love towards him by leaving him so as to avoid the derailment of the wedding that Giorgio is organizing for Alfredo’s sister.
Alfredo is furious.
In order to dissuade and keep him away, Violetta says she is in love with the Baron (his “protector”) and he, as proud and as stupid as only men can be, in a rage and in front of everybody, pays Violetta, like the whore that he thinks she is. The humiliation and tuberculosis, the sweet and romantic evil by excellence, leave no escape for the heroine of this story and give her just enough time to make peace with her beloved Alfredo and swear to him eternal love, symbolized by a medallion she leaves him as a gift before her passing.
La Traviata is one of those love stories made of steel, it can paradigmatically express the intricate intertwining of love, pain, and death, common elements between works of this kind.
It can almost be considered a sort of Romeo & Juliet 2.0, although, not wanting its fans, the grandmother of the Moulin Rouge (because of the tuberculosis, although a smaller illness, for literary excellence), and even the weepy Blockbuster known as Titanic (where discrimination and social distance are as obvious as the class division aboard the ship).
But you have to take a good look from every superficial assessment.
La Traviata, as well as being a miraculous Blockbuster, is complex and controversial, hitting and biting at the bottom of the bourgeois society of that time. The mean materiality of Alfredo’s father, unable to understand and go beyond man’s calculating and manipulative nature, meaningless ceremonies, fake joy of the holidays at the villa that are a merely a continuation of customs, and incapable of going beyond poverty and debt, making the third opera of the trilogy more current and transverse than ever.
Because of these characteristics, la Traviata was considered a social controversy and was subject to fierce censorship that consequently modified entire parts of the story (keeping in mind that Verdi set it in the nineteenth century and was forced to put in on stage in XVIII).
The great capacity for introspection in the soul of the protagonist should be noted, brilliantly supported by a musical phrase that gives color to the most painful and contradictory nuances of Violetta’s disillusioned suffering.
La Scala opens its theatre season with a piece now considered the cornerstone of Italian romantic opera, which will make influence many other composers, mostly Puccini. The arduous task is entrusted to Daniele Gatti, in a sort of back to basics, for those who love the cabal, it has a mystical trace. The Milanese conductor graduated from the “Giuseppe Verdi” Conservatory in Milan and made his debut at La Scala at the age of twenty seven. Gatti is one of the most famous Italian names in the award world because of his collaborations with some of the greatest orchestras in the world, just to name one, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Another interesting fact, his age: “only” 51, that by Italian standards is almost equivalent to having just passed puberty.