Opera

La traviata

Giuseppe Verdi (1813 – 1901)
Sung in Italian, with German surtitles
Melodrama in three acts | Libretto: Francesco Maria Piave, based on "The Lady of the Camellias" by Alexandre Dumas Fils
First performance: 1853 in Venice

Heather Engebretson
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Heather Engebretson, Ioan Hotea
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Heather Engebretson, Ioan Hotea, Helena Köhne
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Heather Engebretson
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Heather Engebretson, Ioan Hotea
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Heather Engebretson, Ioan Hotea
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Heather Engebretson
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Heather Engebretson
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Ioan Hotea, Heather Engebretson
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Heather Engebretson, Ioan Hotea
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Heather Engebretson
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster

Verdi’s reign as king of 19th century Italian opera began with the “Trilogia populare”, consisting of “Rigoletto”, “Il trovatore” and “La traviata”, works in which the composer really tested the nerves and moral sensibilities of his audience. After being introduced to the hunchback jester and vengeful gypsy woman of “Il trovatore”, we are invited into the shiny inner circle of bourgeois society in “La traviata”, where double standards, illness and death lurk behind Parisian salons, countryside life and opulent balls.  Violetta sings of “Questo deserto Parigi” (or “This desert Paris”), lamenting the city which seems to have become a destination of illusion for the lovers of the world. Violetta, a high-class courtesan, status symbol and object of desire, is no stranger to the games and empty promises of men. Yet even a woman as experienced as Violetta in protecting her own heart cannot escape the longing inherent in all human beings: the calling of true love. Alfredo confesses his undying love for her and the two flee into the countryside, but the lovers cannot escape their reality. In the end, it is not a lack of love or money that derails their fortunes, but rather society’s ruthless enforcement of its own rules and structures.  Violetta is well aware of this and eventually renounces Alfredo – at the bequest of his father – in order to preserve his family’s reputation. To her, the injustice of this act turns into an introverted protest, an inward struggle resulting in self-harm, illness and finally death.

Nowadays, Verdi’s masterpiece is often misunderstood as a merely Romantic décor-opera with “tragically nice” end, but its premiere was met with public scepticism – arguably, perhaps, a more accurate interpretation of the work.  Whatever the case may be, both then and now the music of “La traviata” stirs with its floating overture sounds, sparkling coloratura, touching warmth and piercing pain, both affecting the heart and challenging its audience’s sense of justice.

Cast

Conductor Daniela Musca
Original Production Nicolas Brieger
Revival Director Beka Savić
Stage Designer Raimund Bauer
Costume Designer Andrea Schmidt-Futterer
Lighting Designer Andreas Frank
Chorus Master Albert Horne
Dramaturgy Regine Palmai
Violetta Valéry Heather Engebretson, Elif Aytekin, Cristina Pasaroiu
Alfredo Germont Ioan Hotea
Giorgio Germont
Flora Bervoix Silvia Hauer
Annina Petra Urban
Barone Douphol Alexander Knight
Marchese d'Obigny Stephanos Tsirakoglou, Wolf Matthias Friedrich
Gastone Aaron Cawley
Dottore Grenvil John Holyoke
Messenger Sławomir Wielgus, Marek Markisz
Violetta in the sphere Sina Giersemehl
Germont's Daughter Janine Putzek
Chor des Hessischen Staatstheaters Wiesbaden, Hessisches Staatsorchester Wiesbaden