Name: La traviata (The Fallen Woman)
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Librettist: Francesco Maria Piave
Source: La dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils
Premiere: 6 March 1853 at Teatro La Fenice, Venice
Language: Italian

List of characters

Violetta Valéry: a courtesan, soprano
Alfredo Germont: a young bourgeois from a provincial family, tenor
Giorgio Germont: Alfredo’s father, baritone
Flora Bervoix: Violetta’s friend, mezzo-soprano
Annina: Violetta’s maid, soprano
Gastone de Letorières: Alfredo’s friend, tenor
Barone Douphol: Violetta’s lover, a rival of Alfredo, baritone
Marchese d’Obigny: Flora’s lover, bass
Dottore Grenvil: Violetta’s doctor, bass
Giuseppe: Violetta’s servant, tenor
Flora’s servant: bass
Commissioner: bass

Musical numbers

Act I
‘Dell’invito trasvorsa è già l’ora’ (chorus, Flora, Violetta, Alfredo, Gastone)
‘Libiamo ne’ lieti calici’ (Alfredo, Violetta, chorus) ‘Non gradireste ora le danze’ (Violetta, chorus, Alfredo)
‘Si ridesta in ciel’ (chorus)
‘È strano… Ah, forsè lui… Sempre libera’ (Violetta)

Act II
‘Dei miei bollenti spiriti’ (Alfredo)
‘Pure siccome un angelo’ (Violetta, Annina, Giorgio)
‘Dammi tu forza, o cielo’ (Violetta, Annina)
‘Di Provenza il mar’ (Alfredo, Giuseppe, Commissioner, Giorgio)
‘Avrem lieta di maschere la notte’ (chorus, Marchese d’Obigny, Flora, Dottore Grenvil)
‘Noi siamo zingarelle’ (chorus, Flora, Marchese, Dottore Grenvil)
‘Di Madride, noi siam mattadori’ (chorus, Gastone, Flora, Dottore Grenvil, Marchese)
‘Alfredo! Voi’ (chorus, Alfredo, Flora, Barone, Violetta, Marchese, servant)
‘Di sprezzo degno se stesso rende’ (Giorgio Germont, Alfredo, Flora, Gastone, Barone, Violetta, Dottore Grenvil, Marchese)

‘Addio, del passato’ (Violetta, Annina, Dottore Grenvil)
‘Largo al quadrupe’ (chorus)
‘Parigi, o cara’ (Annina, Violetta, Alfredo)
‘Prendi, quest’è l’immagine’ (Giorgio, Violetta, Alfredo, Annina, Dottore Grenvil)


Set in 19th century Paris, this three-act opera tells the tragic love story of young nobleman Alfredo Germont and the courtesan Violetta Valéry, who is suffering from consumption when the action starts. The lovers elope, but their scandalous relationship threatens his upperclass family, jeopardising Alfredo’s sister’s engagement. His father, Giorgio Germont, persuades Violetta to leave his son. Alfredo is devastated, deciding she must have left him from self-interest. Only when Violetta is dying does he learn the truth.

Act I
Violetta Valéry is high-class courtesan, the toast of Paris. She has been ill recently and is throwing a party to celebrate her – what turns out to be temporary – recovery. She is introduced to a new admirer, a romantic young nobleman called Alfredo Germont.

Violetta is taken ill and she sends her guests to the ballroom. Concerned, Alfredo remains; he professes his love for her, but she discourages him. He tells her she must give up her hedonistic lifestyle; she prefers to continue with her parties and life of luxury. But she is intrigued and wants to see this earnest young man again. She gives him a camellia and tells him to come back when it has faded. They say their farewells.

Act II
Violetta and Alfredo have retired to her country house, where they live happily. However, Alfredo discovers that Violetta has been selling her possessions to fund their lifestyle. He goes to Paris to pay off their debts and while he’s away his father, Giorgio Germont, arrives to ask Violetta to leave his son. At first she refuses, but Germont informs her that Alfredo has a sister whose engagement to a respectable young man is at risk because of Alfredo’s relationship with Violetta. Devastated, Violetta agrees to leave Alfredo and she returns to Paris; Alfredo comes back to find he is alone.

Later, Violetta attends Flora’s ball with Baron Douphol. Alfredo finds Violetta’s invitation to the party and surmises that’s where she will be. He follows her there, only to find her on the Baron’s arm. He knows nothing of her meeting with his father and, in his anger, he humiliates her, throwing money at her feet.

Violetta is asleep in her bedroom. She is dying, destitute and friendless, but for her maid Annina. The doctor arrives and tells Annina that Violetta only has hours to live, before leaving again. Violetta sends Annina away to give what money she has left to the poor. Alone, Violetta reads a letter from Germont. Full of remorse, he has confessed the truth to his son, telling him about Violetta’s sacrifice.

Germont and Alfredo are on their way to beg her forgiveness. They arrive, to be joined by Annina and Dottore Grenvil. But it’s too late – Violetta dies in the arms of the man she loves.



Poster for the first performance of La Traviata.