With this new production of La traviata at the 2011 Aix-en-Provence Festival, Natalie Dessay made her first European appearances as Verdi’s Violetta, a pinnacle of the soprano repertoire. She made her debut in the role in 2009 at the Santa Fe Festival in the US, and subsequently sang Violetta in Japan. Dessay’s 2011-12 season will include La traviata at the Vienna State Opera (in this Aix-en-Provence production by French theatre and opera director Jean-François Sivadier) and the New York Metropolitan.
In this live 1973 performance from Japan, Scotto is parthnered by one of the great tenors of our time, José Carreras, then at the start of his international career. The distinguished baritone Sesto Bruscantini is a formidable Germont who sings an exceptionally moving rendition of the famous aria "Di Provenza il mar".
La Traviata, Giuseppe Verdi very personal opera, was premiered in 1853 at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice. The first night was a fiasco, but after a few revisions the opera set out to conquer the world. La Traviata offers no scope for grandiose crowd scenes or historical pomp. In keeping with the intimate nature of the action, Verdi’s music reflects the inner feelings of the protagonists. The heroine, whose emotional state is determined by external circumstances, is in the centre of the story of emotional upheavals. Jürgen Flimm haunting staging stays close to Verdi’s intent. He focuses on the protagonists, showing their shakiness, emotions, despair, love, sacrifice and tragedy rather than concentrating on the abysses of the Parisian demi-monde. Eva Mei and Piotr Beczala are a perfectly matched couple. Her soft and flexible soprano and his lyrical tenor, marked by excellent diction, work very well together, joined by the “golden” voice of outstanding Thomas Hampson.
La traviata is one of the world's most popular operas. Its arias are instantly recognisable and have become staples for opera houses across the globe. Yet at its London premiere in 1856, La traviata was denounced for bringing 'the poetry of the brothel' to the stage and unleashing uncomfortable truths on Victorian society. Amanda Vickery and Tom Service reveal the extraordinary story behind the opera's first night in London and its scandalous heroine, the courtesan Violetta Valéry, whose dramatic life and tragic death were based on real-life characters and events.