Great Performances at the Met: La Traviata

(Rochester, NY) – Sonya Yoncheva reprises her widely praised interpretation of the heroine Violetta Valéry in Verdi’s La Traviata, on Great Performances at the Met Friday, August 25 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV. Michael Fabiano is her lover, Alfredo, Thomas Hampson, in one of his most acclaimed Met roles, returns as Alfredo’s protective father, Giorgio Germont. San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts.

La Traviata premiered at Venice’s Teatro la Fenice in 1853, and survived a notoriously unsuccessful opening night to become one of the best-loved operas in the repertoire. Following the larger-scale dramas of Rigoletto and Il Trovatore, its intimate scope and subject matter inspired the composer to create some of his most profound and heartfelt music. The title role of the “fallen woman” has captured the imaginations of audiences and performers alike with its inexhaustible vocal and dramatic possibilities—and challenges. Violetta is considered a pinnacle of the soprano repertoire.         

In a remarkable career spanning six decades in the theater, Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) composed 28 operas, at least half of which are at the core of today’s repertoire. Francesco Maria Piave (1810–1876) was Verdi’s librettist during his productive middle period, who also worked with him on Ernani, Macbeth, Rigoletto, and La Forza del Destino, among others. Alexandre Dumas fils (1824–1895) was the son of the author of The Three Musketeers. The play La Dame aux Camélias is based on his own novel of the same name.

With La Traviata, Verdi and Piave fashioned an opera from a play set in contemporary times—an exception in the composer’s long career. Dumas’s La Dame aux Camélias was a meditation on the author’s youthful affair with the celebrated prostitute Marie Duplessis, known as a sophisticated and well-read woman whose charms and tact far surpassed her station. The play is still staged today in its original form and exists in several film incarnations, most notably Greta Garbo’s Camille (1936).

Pictured: Michael Fabiano as Alfredo and Sonya Yoncheva as Violetta in Verdi's classic opera.
Credit: Courtesy of Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

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