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La traviata

Five things we love about La traviata

Ahead of the performances in Cardiff, it's over to your resident opera company Welsh National Opera to share five reasons why they love Verdi's La traviata. 

At Welsh National Opera, we cannot wait for our ever-popular production of La traviata to return to the stage. Here we look at our top five reasons we love the opera and why we think you should experience this timeless classic for yourself this Autumn.

It’s very familiar

Verdi’s La traviata has popped up in movies, television programmes, adverts and even on the red carpet at the Grammys. It’s most famous pop-culture moment however is during the movie Pretty Woman (a movie which borrows quite heavily from Verdi’s story) when Richard Gere’s Edward takes Julia Roberts’s Vivienne to a performance of La traviata. Read our blog, La traviata in popular culture, to discover where else you may have come across it.

It’s an underdog story

Verdi’s Violetta is an outcast, a woman on the edge of society, who falls in love and has the audience wishing her a happy ending. However, that’s not what we’re focussing on here; La traviata’s opening night at La Fenice Opera House in Venice on the 6 March 1853 was, as Verdi described it, ‘a fiasco’. The audience didn’t take to kindly to Fanny Salivini-Donatelli who they considered too old to play the role of courtesan Violetta and they jeered the leading men. Despite this disastrous opening, La traviata has gone on to become one of the world’s most popular operas.

It's got girl power

At a time where girl power is, once again, on the rise thanks to Greta Gerwig’s summer blockbuster Barbie, it’s important to acknowledge this theme in Verdi’s classic tale. In the movie, we see Margot Robbie leave Barbieland behind and travel to California where, to her horror, she discovers the perils of a male dominated society and is looked down upon for daring to be different. This is similar to Violetta in that she too leaves her life behind and is looked down upon by those in her new world. Though it may seem odd to talk about a courtesan who is rejected by everyone as an empowering figure for women, Verdi makes us very aware of the double standards of a male-dominated society, particularly in that they encourage prostitution but censor the result. Throughout the opera, Verdi engages our sympathy for Violetta’s plight and shows us her loving, kind heart which gets the audience firmly on her side.

It never goes out of style

Designer Tanya McCallin returns to bring the lavish detail of 19th century Paris to life. Tanya has designed extensively for opera with work including The Barber of Seville (English National Opera), Rigoletto and Carmen (Royal Opera House) and Così fan tutte (Strasbourg, Scottish Opera). With flamboyant dresses and magnificent sets inspired by the slightly seedy 19th century Paris clubs, La traviata is a visual feast. Explore why our production looks the way it does by reading our blog, Parisian Fashion.

It’s the ultimate opera

Love, heartache, betrayal, envy, parties, redemption, sacrifice, death and some of the most recognisable music from the world of opera… La traviata has it all. It is one of the most performed opera’s every year and it’s no wonder it’s often voted the world’s best.

Experience the enthralling La traviata this Autumn as it is brought to life by a sublime cast including Stacey Alleaume as Violetta and David Junghoon Kim as the apple of her eye, Alfredo.

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