Deutsche Oper Berlin

La traviata

Opera

Bismarckstraße 35, 10627 Berlin

Giuseppe Verdi

Description

In setting »La Dame aux Camélias« to music, Verdi explored, in a shockingly direct way, two big themes of the 19th century: prostitution and consumption. Götz Friedrich’s production stresses the futility of Violetta Valéry’s attempt to escape her fate …

About the work
Violetta Valery, living in kept splendour at the expense of Baron Douphol, has apparently recovered from a serious illness. To celebrate, she throws a party where she meets and falls for Alfredo Germont. As their love for each other is frowned upon, they set up house outside of Paris. Alfredo’s father insists that she break with his son in order not to jeopardise the marriage prospects of Alfredo’s sister. Violetta accedes to his wish and cuts off relations. In a showdown at another party Violetta tries to convince Alfredo that she’s in love with the Baron, causing Alfredo to hurl his gambling winnings at her feet, calling them “fees for services rendered”. Soon afterwards, at the height of the Paris carnival, Violetta is on her deathbed. She receives Alfredo, who has heard from his father her real reason for leaving him. Violetta forgives him, gives him her blessing and dies.

Verdi’s only opera to be set in middle-class circles of mid-nineteenth-century Paris was based on “La dame aux camélias”, an acclaimed novel by Alexandre Dumas fils. The novel referenced the death of Marie Duplessis, a 23-year-old courtesan, from TB on 3rd February 1847 as the occasion for a critical study of the Parisian demi-monde. Where Dumas’s main characters form part of a tight social network, Verdi and librettist Francesco Maria Piave eliminate anything that isn’t directly linked to the clashes between Violetta, Alfredo and father, Giorgio Germont. This drama of interior emotions focuses on the three stations on Violetta’a via: love, renunciation and death.

About the production
Götz Friedrich gave the opera the tragic slant of a requiem by telling Violetta’s story in the form of flashbacks, which begin with the prelude presenting Violetta lying on a white deathbed on a stark stage that resembles a massive tomb. She rises from the bed (which promptly becomes a chaise longue), pulls on a ballroom gown and turns to receive Paris’s party people disgorging into the room. The tale is unsentimentally staged, with no hint of trivial directness. The focus is on the drama’s interiority and the atmosphere of death and doom.

Dates

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Deutsche Oper Berlin

Bismarckstraße 35, 10627 Berlin

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