The main character, Violetta Valéry, chooses to break free from a society that is slowly suffocating her, and a world that cares only for money, competition and sensation. She wants to create and define her own life – and death. Viewed from this perspective, Giuseppe Verdi's La traviata is an attack on hypocrisy. But it is also a life-affirming celebration of human dignity, compassion and creativity.
La traviata put mid-19th century society in the spotlight, with all its diseases and its problems, and dressed it up in music. Gentle strings, sounding almost as if they are the tuberculosis sufferers gasping for air, are set against the party music and Violetta's triumphant aria, «Sempre libera!» – always free. It is a strong musical expression of the freedom she craves. At the same time, we are uncertain how free she really is: a doubt that echoes the question of how much autonomy we have over our own lives.
La traviata is based on Alexandre Dumas's novel and play, La Dame aux camélias, which in turn was based on a true story. In real life, Violetta was Marie Duplessis, a famous courtesan in Parisian society. The name of Alfredo Germont, her lover, hides Alexandre Dumas's own story. In summer 1845 he was living happily in the countryside outside Paris with the beautiful Marie, who was only 23 when she died of consumption. Their story has since been told many times in ballets, and in films such as Pretty Woman (1990) and Moulin Rouge! (2001), as well as in countless productions of Verdi's opera – the most frequently staged in the world.
This new production is directed by Tatjana Gürbaca, fêted as Director of the Year in 2013 by Opernwelt magazine.