by Marcee Ludlow
SALT LAKE CITY — La Traviata, or “The Woman Who Strayed,” is a story overflowing with emotion and tragedy nestled in an intimate and straightforward plot. It is based on La Dame aux Camélias, a play adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas, and has been controversial from its first performance. Giuseppe Verdi then expressed Violetta’s tragedy and society’s hypocrisy in music and Francesco Maria Piave wrote the Italian libretto. Utah Opera has brought us a captivating production at the beautifully renovated Capitol Theatre.
The story centers on the courtesan Violetta Valéry who is more than she seems. She first appears to sparkle with gaiety at a Parisian party celebrating her recovery from a foreboding illness. Her life in Act I is extravagant and pleasure-filled until she meets Alfredo Germont. Through their true love, Violetta strays from the path of a courtesan to a new life in the quiet country where she is free, powerful, and happy at the opening of Act II. Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father, comes to visit and put an end to their fairy tale, reminding her that men will not forget or forgive her past. He convinces her to give up Alfredo and their happiness for the family’s honor. Showing her strength of character, she returns to the demimonde, the Baron Douphol, and society’s cage. But Alfredo refuses to let her go so easily and follows her to Flora’s party where he clashes with the Baron, wins a lot of money at cards, and reviles and humiliates Violetta—much to his father’s shock and disapproval. When Act III opens, Violetta is dying from consumption. She is clinging to a letter from Giorgio that promises he and Alfredo, who now knows the truth of Violetta’s love and sacrifice, will return. They arrive just in time for a beautiful but tragic goodbye.
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