November 10 at noon
91.7 FM Houston Classical Radio or WFMT Radio Network
An Opera in Three Acts. Music by Giuseppe Verdi. Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. Sung in Italian.
The story of Violetta Valéry, a beautiful but mortally ill courtesan, has defined romantic tragedy ever since the Dumas novel that inspired it—La dame aux camellias—appeared in 1848. Violetta falls in love with Alfredo Germont and forsakes her glamorous life in Paris to live with him in the country. When his father convinces her that the affair is harming the family's reputation, she selflessly gives up Alfredo, but without telling him the true reason. Alfredo learns of her sacrifice too late.
Cast (in order of appearance)
Violetta Valéry - Albina Shagimuratova
Flora Bervoix - Catherine Martin
Marquese d'Obigny - Mark Diamond
Baron Douphol - Boris Dyakov
Doctor Grenvil - Nicholas Masters
Gastone, Vicomte de Letourières - Scott Quinn
Alfredo Germont - Chad Shelton
Annina - Brittany Wheeler
Giuseppe/Flora's Servant - Brendan Tuohy
Giorgio Germont - Giovanni Meoni
Commissioner - Keenan Manceaux
Conductor - Patrick Summers, Margaret Alkek Williams Chair
Director - Daniel Slater
Set & Costume Designer - Desmond Heeley
Lighting Designer - Michael James Clark
Choreographer/Assistant Director - Tim Claydon
Chorus Master - Richard Bado
Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus
The story is set in and near Paris, around 1850.
A party is taking place at the house of Violetta Valéry, a famous Parisian courtesan. Vicomte Gastone presents his friend, Alfredo Germont, telling Violetta that Alfredo has long been a silent admirer and had visited daily during her recent illness to ask about her. Later, as the others go to another room to dance, Violetta is overcome by a coughing fit. Alfredo stays behind and confesses that he has been in love with her for a year. Violetta appears to offer him friendship instead of love, but gives him a flower, asking him to return when it has withered. Alfredo joyfully accepts and bids her goodnight. When her guests have departed, Violetta muses on Alfredo's proffered love, torn between her attraction to him and her wish to remain free.
ACT II Scene 1
Three months later
Violetta is living with Alfredo in the country, having abandoned her sumptuous life in the city. Annina, Violetta's maid and confi- dante, tells Alfredo that she has been instructed by her mistress to arrange the sale of Violetta's property in order to pay for their mounting debts. Alfredo suddenly understands the sacrifices Violetta has made in order to live with him, and he leaves for Paris, determined to obtain a loan.
Meanwhile, Violetta receives an unexpected visitor — Giorgio Germont, Alfredo's father—who declares that Alfredo is ruining himself and his family by keeping her as his mistress. He asks her to give up Alfredo, explaining that by continuing the liaison, Alfredo is endangering the impending marriage of his younger sister. Germont's insistence finally convinces Violetta, who agrees to leave Alfredo forever.
Violetta is composing a letter of farewell to Alfredo when he suddenly returns from Paris. He is puzzled when she tearfully assures him of her love and hastily departs. A messenger soon returns with her letter. Germont tries to comfort his son, but the grief-stricken Alfredo, finding a party invitation to Violetta from her friend Flora, resolves to go to the party in hopes of finding her.
ACT II Scene 2
Alfredo is at Flora's party, where the guests begin to gamble. Then Violetta arrives, escorted by Baron Douphol, who chal- lenges Alfredo to a game. Alfredo accepts and beats the Baron repeatedly. When the others go in for dinner, Violetta remains behind to warn Alfredo to leave lest the Baron challenge him to a duel. Alfredo answers that he will only leave if she accompanies him. Unwilling to reveal that her breaking off with him was at the behest of his father, Violetta declares that she is in love with the Baron. Alfredo furiously calls all the guests back into the room and announces that he is paying Violetta off for services rendered, contemptuously throwing his winnings at her feet. Germont enters in time to witness Alfredo's cruelty and joins the others in denouncing him. The Baron tells Alfredo that he must answer for the insult on the field of honor.
Some months later
Violetta's illness has brought her to the point of death. Her physician, Dr. Grenvil, confides in Annina that her mistress has but a few hours to live. Violetta reads a letter from Germont telling her that Alfredo went abroad after wounding the Baron in the duel and, aware of the great sacrifice Violetta made, is returning to beg her forgiveness.
Alfredo arrives and the two are reunited at last. They dream of escaping to a healthy, happy life outside Paris, but come to realize it is only a fantasy of what might have been. Germont appears, keen to make amends for the suffering he caused. It is too late. Violetta dies.
HGO Performance History:
La traviata was first performed at HGO during the 1956 – 57 season, with subsequent performances in the 1960–61, 1966–67, 1973–74, 1978–79, 1984–85, 1993–94, 1998–99 and 2002–03 seasons.