La Traviata

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Approximate running time: 2 hours 45 minutes, 2 intermission (20 minutes)

Language: In Italian, surtitles in Czech, English

 

Giuseppe Verdi’s La traviata, to the libretto based on Alexandre Dumas’s novel La Dame aux camélias, about Marie Duplessis, the famous courtesan and idol of Parisian society in the 1840s, is actually the very first major opera treating a contemporary social theme. The work’s premiere in 1863 in Venice was a flop: the audience was appalled that the lead role had been assigned to a courtesan who, what’s more, was portrayed in a positive light. Yet Verdi’s opera soon started garnering plaudits and is now one of the most popular repertoire titles the world over.

 

La traviata has been staged by the Neues deutsches Theaterat (today’s State Opera) in Prague from the very beginning of its existence, when it took over the production from the German Estates Theatre. The opera primarily afforded the opportunity to host celebrated foreign singers, including the legendary Australian soprano Nellie Melba (18 April 1900). The most recent production was undertaken in 2006 by a foreign team headed by the French stage director Arnaud Bernard, with the music being explored by the Italian conductor Enrico Dovico.

 

WARNING: Tobacco products and nudity are featured in the performance.
Suitable for audience from 15 years.

 

Synopsis

Place: Paris and its vicinity

Time: Beginning of the 19th century

 

Act 1

The salon in Violetta's house

Violetta Valéry, a famed courtesan, throws a lavish party at her Paris salon to celebrate her recovery from an illness. Gastone, a viscount, has brought with him a friend, Alfredo Germont, a young bourgeois from a provincial family who has long adored Violetta from afar. While walking to the salon, Gastone tells Violetta that Alfredo loves her, and that while she was ill, he came to her house every day. Alfredo joins them, admitting the truth of Gastone's remarks.

Baron Douphol, Violetta's current lover, waits nearby to escort her to the salon. Once there, the Baron is asked to give a toast, but refuses, and the crowd turns to Alfredo, who agrees to sing a brindisi – a drinking song (Alfredo, Violetta, chorus: Libiamo ne' lieti calici – "Let's drink from the joyful cups").

 

From the next room, the sound of the orchestra is heard and the guests move there to dance. After a series of severe coughs and almost fainting, Violetta begins to feel dizzy and asks her guests to go ahead and to leave her to rest until she recovers. While the guests dance in the next room, Violetta looks at her pale face in her mirror. Alfredo enters and expresses his concern for her fragile health, later declaring his love for her (Alfredo, Violetta: Un dì, felice, eterea – "One day, happy and ethereal"). At first, she rejects him because his love means nothing to her, but there is something about Alfredo that touches her heart. He is about to leave when she gives him a flower, telling him to return it when it has wilted, which will be the very next day.

After the guests leave, Violetta wonders if Alfredo could actually be the one in her life (Violetta: È strano! ... Ah, fors' è lui – "Ah, perhaps he is the one"). But she concludes that she needs freedom to live her life (Violetta, Alfredo: Sempre libera – "Always free"). From off stage, Alfredo's voice is heard singing about love as he walks down the street.

 

Act 2

Scene 1: Violetta's country house outside Paris

Three months later, Alfredo and Violetta are living together in a peaceful country house outside Paris. Violetta has fallen in love with Alfredo and she has completely abandoned her former life. Alfredo sings of their happy life together (Alfredo: De' miei bollenti spiriti / Il giovanile ardore – "The youthful ardor of my ebullient spirits"). Annina, the maid, arrives from Paris, and, when questioned by Alfredo, tells him that she went there to sell the horses, carriages and everything owned by Violetta to support their country lifestyle.

 

Alfredo is shocked to learn this and leaves for Paris immediately to settle matters himself. Violetta returns home and receives an invitation from her friend, Flora, to a party in Paris that evening. Alfredo's father, Giorgio Germont, is announced and demands that she break off her relationship with his son for the sake of his family, since he reveals that Violetta's relationship with Alfredo has threatened his daughter's engagement (Giorgio: Pura siccome un angelo, Iddio mi diè una figlia – "Pure as an angel, God gave me a daughter") because of Violetta's reputation. Meanwhile, he reluctantly becomes impressed by Violetta's nobility, something which he did not expect from a courtesan. She responds that she cannot end the relationship because she loves Alfredo so much, but Giorgio pleads with her for the sake of his family. With growing remorse, she finally agrees (Violetta, Giorgio: Dite alla giovine, sì bella e pura, – "Tell the young girl, so beautiful and pure,") and says goodbye to Giorgio. In a gesture of gratitude for her kindness and sacrifice, Giorgio kisses her forehead before leaving her weeping alone.

 

Violetta gives a note to Annina to send to Flora accepting the party invitation and, as she is writing a farewell letter to Alfredo, he enters. She can barely control her sadness and tears; she tells him repeatedly of her unconditional love (Violetta: Amami, Alfredo, amami quant'io t'amo – "Love me, Alfredo, love me as I love you"). Before rushing out and setting off for Paris, she hands the farewell letter to her servant to give to Alfredo.

 

Soon, the servant brings the letter to Alfredo and, as soon as he has read it, Giorgio returns and attempts to comfort his son, reminding him of his family in Provence (Giorgio: Di Provenza il mar, il suol chi dal cor ti cancellò? – "Who erased the sea, the land of Provence from your heart?"). Alfredo suspects that the Baron is behind his separation from Violetta, and the party invitation, which he finds on the desk, strengthens his suspicions. He decides to confront Violetta at the party. Giorgio tries to stop Alfredo, but he rushes out.

 

Scene 2: Party at Flora's house

At the party, the Marquis tells Flora that Violetta and Alfredo have separated, much to the amazement of everyone who had previously seen the happy couple. She calls for the entertainers to perform for the guests (Chorus: Noi siamo zingarelle venute da lontano – "We are gypsy girls who have come from afar"; Di Madride noi siam mattadori – "We are matadors from Madrid"). Gastone and his friends join the matadors and sing (Gastone, chorus, dancers: È Piquillo un bel gagliardo Biscaglino mattador – "Piquillo is a bold and handsome matador from Biscay").

 

Violetta arrives with Baron Douphol. They see Alfredo at the gambling table. When he sees them, Alfredo loudly proclaims that he will take Violetta home with him. Feeling annoyed, the Baron goes to the gambling table and joins him in a game. As they bet, Alfredo wins some large sums until Flora announces that supper is ready. Alfredo leaves with handfuls of money.

 

As everyone is leaving the room, Violetta has asked Alfredo to see her. Fearing that the Baron's anger will lead him to challenge Alfredo to a duel, she gently asks Alfredo to leave. Alfredo misunderstands her apprehension and demands that she admit that she loves the Baron. In grief, she makes that admission and, furiously, Alfredo calls the guests to witness what he has to say (Questa donna conoscete? – "You know this woman?"). He humiliates and denounces Violetta in front of the guests and then throws his winnings at her feet in payment for her services. She faints onto the floor. The guests reprimand Alfredo: Di donne ignobile insultatore, di qua allontanati, ne desti orror! ("Ignoble insulter of women, go away from here, you fill us with horror!").

 

In search of his son, Giorgio enters the hall and, knowing the real significance of the scene, denounces his son's behavior (Giorgio, Alfredo, Violetta, chorus: Di sprezzo degno sè stesso rende chi pur nell'ira la donna offende. – "A man, who even in anger, offends a woman renders himself deserving of contempt.").

Flora and the ladies attempt to persuade Violetta to leave the dining room, but Violetta turns to Alfredo: Alfredo, Alfredo, di questo core non-puoi comprendere tutto l'amore... – "Alfredo, Alfredo, you can't understand all the love in this heart...".

 

Act 3

Violetta's bedroom

Dr. Grenvil tells Annina that Violetta will not live long since her tuberculosis has worsened. Alone in her room, Violetta reads a letter from Alfredo's father telling her that the Baron was only wounded in his duel with Alfredo. He has informed Alfredo of the sacrifice she has made for him and his sister; and he is sending his son to see her as quickly as possible to ask for her forgiveness. But Violetta senses it is too late (Violetta: Addio, del passato bei sogni ridenti – "Farewell, lovely, happy dreams of the past").

 

Annina rushes into the room to tell Violetta of Alfredo's arrival. The lovers are reunited and Alfredo suggests that they leave Paris (Alfredo, Violetta: Parigi, o cara, noi lasceremo – "We will leave Paris, O beloved").

 

But it is too late: she knows her death approaches (Alfredo, Violetta: Gran Dio!...morir sì giovane – "Great God!...to die so young"). Alfredo's father enters with the doctor, regretting what he has done. After singing a duet with Alfredo, Violetta suddenly revives, exclaiming that the pain and discomfort have left her. A moment later, she dies in Alfredo's arms.

Program and cast

Conductor: Vincenzo Milletarì, Jiří Štrunc, Anna Novotná Pešková

Violetta Valéry: Zuzana Marková, Jana Sibera, Lucie Kaňková

Alfredo Germont: Oreste Cosimo, Alejandro Del Angel

Giorgio Germont: Stepan Drobit, Daniel Luis de Vicente, Svatopluk Sem

Flora Bervoix: Kateřina Jalovcová, Sylva Čmugrová

Gaston: Daniel Matoušek, Michal Bragagnolo, Michael Skalický

Barone Douphol: František Zahradníček, Roman Vocel

Marquis d'Obigny: Ivo Hrachovec, Miloš Horák

Doctor Grenville: Pavel Švingr, Oleg Korotkov

Annina: Markéta Frýdová, Lubomira Popova Alabozova, Lucia Bildová

Commissionario: Pavel Borek, Vladimír Müller

Servant (duplicate): Jindřich Nečesaný ,Zdeněk Haas

Domestico di Flora: Michael Skalický, Sergej Smirnyj

 

Libretto - Francesco Maria Piave

Stage director - Arnaud Bernard

Sets - Alessandro Camera

Costumes - Carla Ricotti

Light design - Patrick Méeüs

Chorus master - Adolf Melichar

Dramaturgy - Jitka Slavíková

Photo gallery
Národní divadlo
© Národní divadlo
Národní divadlo
© Národní divadlo
Národní divadlo
© Národní divadlo
Národní divadlo
© Národní divadlo

Prague State Opera

The State Opera today

 

The State Opera (formerly the State Opera Prague, between 1948 and 1992 the Smetana Theatre, and originally the New German Theatre) has been a part of the National Theatre since 2012. The Opera and Ballet ensembles give repertory performances at the State Opera.

 

History

 

The Prague State Opera resides in the building which on January 5, 1888 was opened as a Prague German stage with the performance of Wagner’s opera, The Mastersingers of Nürnberg. In the 19th century, Prague Germans performed in the Estate’s Theater in alternation with a Czech company. Desire for their own theater led to negotiations in 1883 for the construction of a new theater building for the German Theater Association. Over the next three years, a blueprint was drawn up and handed over to the Vienna atelier of Fellner and Hellmer. Also sharing in the design was the architect of the Vienna Municipal Theater, Karl Hasenauer, while Prague architect Alfons Wertmüller took part in the construction. Financing came from private collections. With its spacious auditorium and neo-Rococo decoration, this theater building is among the most beautiful in Europe.

 

Access:

 

By car

On Wilsonova street, from the left lane close to the State Opera building take the slip road to the Slovan above-ground garage. The parking fee is 40 CZK/h.

 

By tram

 

By daytime tram No. 11 to the stop “Muzeum”, through the underpass beneath Legerova street in the direction of the NationalMuseum, at the crossroads turn right along the NewBuilding of the NationalMuseum.

 

By daytime trams Nos. 3, 9, 14 and 24 or night trams Nos. 51, 52, 54, 55, 56 and 58 to the stop “Václavské náměstí”, then by foot uphill on the left side of the Wenceslas Square to the traffic lights across Wilsonova and Vinohradská streets. Then turn left along the NewBuilding of the NationalMuseum.

 

By metro

To the “Muzeum” station, lines A and C (green and red), and then by foot along the NewBuilding of the NationalMuseum.

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