Verdi La traviata
Sunday 19 March 2023 - 15 h
Tuesday 21 March 2023 - 20 h
Thursday 23 March 2023 - 20 h
Melodramma in three acts
Music by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave after The Lady of the Camellias (1852) by Alexandre Dumas fils, a play based on his novel of the same name
Premiere: Venice, Teatro La Fenice, 6 March 1853
Production of the Monte Carlo Opera, in co-production with the Opéra-Théâtre de Saint-Étienne
This first season of the Monte Carlo Opera under its new director will see the return of Jean-Louis Grinda’s production of La traviata created in 2013. A symbol of a harmonious handover of power and a sign of true understanding, these performances will also be an opportunity to celebrate the return of Plácido Domingo to a stage he last walked on as a singer in 1996. Alongside him, the wonderful Aida Garifullina will offer her touching portrayal of Verdi and Dumas’ heroine, and Javier Camarena will make a much-anticipated debut as Alfredo.
As Charles Dickens remarked when he visited Paris in 1847 at the time of the death of Marie Duplessis –known to posterity as the Lady of the Camellias– the whole city stood still, transfixed by the romantic death of its most famous demi-mondaine. Thanks to Alexandre Dumas fils, who had his own very personal reasons for dwelling on this tragic fate, and to Giuseppe Verdi, it can be said that two 19th century geniuses gave the beautiful and sensitive Marie a true immortality.
MONTE CARLO PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
Massimo Zanetti was Music Director of the Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra (South Corea) from 2018 until the end of 2022. Under his leading it has become one of the most important symphony orchestras in Asia. Among his many concerts, the Brahms, Beethoven, Schumann and Respighi cycles were particularly acclaimed by the critics and audience. His international career has already taken him to the most renowned opera houses and concert halls in the world. In 2023, he will continue his twenty years collaboration with the Berlin State Opera Unter den Linden, conducting Don Carlo and La bohème. Invitations in recent seasons have taken him to the Monte Carlo Opera (I due Foscari), the Sydney Opera House, La Scala in Milan and the Seoul Metropolitan Opera among many others. In the symphonic field, he has worked with the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Bruckner Orchestra Linz, the Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Komische Oper in Berlin, the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra and the Russian National Orchestra, among many others. Massimo Zanetti was music director at the Flemish Opera from 1999 to 2002. During this time, he not only performed a large number of highly acclaimed productions of a wide range of titles including Salome, Der fliegende Holländer and Pelléas et Mélisande but also many symphony concerts presenting some of the most important works of the symphonic repertoire. Zanetti’s successful work is also documented by an extensive discography.
Born in Monaco in 1960, Jean-Louis Grinda began his career in 1981 as artistic secretary at the Avignon Opera and Chorégies d’Orange. From 1986 to 1999 he was director of the Grand Théâtre de Reims. In 1996 he was appointed general manager and artistic director of the Opéra royal de Wallonie (Liège), a position he held until 2006. During his tenure he initiated an eclectic programme, made his debuts as stage designer with Singin’ in the Rain (2001 Molière Award for best musical), and put on a highly acclaimed production of Ring. Since then he has stage designed over 40 operas and musicals, from Paris to Tel Aviv, Montreal, Rome, Hong Kong, Santiago de Chile, Tokyo, Shanghai… For fifteen years, from 2007 to 2022, he was director of the Monte Carlo Opera, during which his notable achievements include enhancing the repertoire, increasing the number of performances, initiating operations aimed at attracting wider audiences to the theatre, especially younger audiences. In 2015 he created with Cecilia Bartoli an orchestra attached to the Monte Carlo Opera, Les Musiciens du Prince – Monaco, with performances in major venues in Europe, as well as at the Salzburg Festival. In 2016 he was appointed director of the Chorégies d’Orange where, in addition to opera productions, he introduced a programme to include ballet, silent movie hits, and electronic music. Jean-Louis Grinda is a permanent member of the Operalia jury, created and presided by Plácido Domingo.
Rudy Sabounghi has worked, and continues to work, for the theatre and opera with artists such as Klaus Michael Gruber, Luc Bondy, Jean-Claude Berutti, Jacques Lassalle, Jean-Claude Auvray, Luca Ronconi, Deborah Warner, Jean Liermier, Fabrice Murgia, Muriel Mayette and film director Arnaud Desplechin. This season he has designed the sets for Tosca and Pelléas et Mélisande in Trier, Isabella Rossellini’s Darwin’s Smile, and Muriel Mayette’s stage production of Bérénice in Nice. He also collaborates with Anne-Teresa de Keersmaeker on Verklärte Nacht in Copenhagen, and Mozart’s Concert Arias in Antwerp. He is visiting professor at leading theatre schools such as Ensatt in Lyon and the TNS in Strasbourg. At the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, where he discovered his vocation, he has designed the sets for Die Fledermaus, Don Giovanni, Rigoletto, L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, The Magic Flute, Falstaff, Mefistofele, La Navarraise, La traviata, Amica, Das Rheingold, Pagliacci/A Florentine Tragedy, The Gambler, Lucia di Lammermoor, La bohème, Carmen, Il turco in Italia, Werther, and La Damnation de Faust. His most recent projects include Farnace at La Fenice in Venice, Ernani at the Lithuanian National Opera (Vilnius), Werther at the Palau de les Arts in Valencia, Le nozze di Figaro, Don Carlo, Tosca and Der Rosenkavalier at the Theater Trier, Rigoletto at the Tbilissi Opera Theatre, La traviata in Saint-Étienne, Carmen at the Opéra de Marseille, the Opéra national du Capitole de Toulouse, the Teatro Calderón in Valladolid, and Dialogues des carmélites at the Opéra national de Bordeaux.
Born in Santiago de Chile, Jorge Jara studied architecture there before moving to Berlin, where, from 1975 on, he began creating costumes for the cinema, opera and theatre. He works with stage directors such as Pierre Audi, Luc Bondy, Nicolas Brieger, Guy Joosten and Nikolaus Lehnhoff. His many productions include What Next? (Carter) and Von heute auf morgen (Schönberg) at the Berliner Staatsoper, a Mozart cycle and Lulu in Liège, La Bohème in Lyon and Zurich, Fidelio in Leipzig, Roméo et Juliette at the New York Metropolitan Opera, Der Cornet and Galileo in Geneva, The Tempest and Le Roi Roger in Frankfurt, The Magic Flute at the Salzburg Festival, Un ballo in maschera and Orphée aux Enfers in Lausanne, L’elisir d’amore in Amsterdam, Rigoletto in Copenhagen, La Vestale in Vienna (Theater an der Wien) and about fifteen productions at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels. His recent productions include Il turco in Italia in Vienna and Avignon, Aida and La sonnambula in Düsseldorf, and La Bohème in Hamburg. At the Monte Carlo Opera, he has designed the costumes for The Queen of Spades, Le nozze di Figaro, Falstaff, La traviata, Das Reingold, Pagliacci, The Gambler, Tannhäuser, Falstaff, Lucia di Lammermoor, Thaïs, Il turco in Italia and La Damnation de Faust.
Laurent Castaingt divides his time between theatre, dance and opera, constantly seeking to diversify the genres. He has collaborated with personalities as diverse as Alfredo Arias, Bernard Murat, Jean-Louis Grinda, Richard Brunel, Jean-Claude Auvray, and René Loyon, as well as with Karel Reisz, the Japanese choreographer Hideyuki Yano, Roman Polanski, Gérard Desarthe and François Marthouret, Sylvie Testud, Laure Duthilleul, Madeleine Marion, Pierre Barrat and Marie-Noël Rio, Jean-Claude Berutti, Marie-Pascale Osterrieth, Alain Delon and many more. He has designed the sets and lighting for the theatre adaptation of Virginie Despentes’ novel King-Kong Théorie at the Théâtre de l’Atelier (directed by Vanessa Larré). His research on luminous matter and nature inspired an outdoor installation in Geneva, Écorces vives, as well as a collaboration with the comic book artist François Schuitten for Planet of Visions, for Expo 2000 in Hanover. He has worked for major venues in Paris, Vienna (Volksoper), Barcelona (Liceu), Rome (Teatro Valle), Buenos Aires (Teatro Colón), the opera houses of Hong Kong, Valencia, Tokyo, Dallas, the Chorégies d’Orange, the Sporting de Monaco. He has designed the lighting for more than twenty operas at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, more recently Carmen, Thaïs, Madama Butterfly, Il turco in Italia, Werther, and La Damnation de Faust. He has won three nominations for the Molière award for best lighting design. He is at present working on a book for Deuxième Époque publishers, devoted entirely to the work of stage lighting and its rapport with painting.
After studying dance with Rosella Hightower, Eugénie Andrin was remarked by Éric Vu An who engaged her at the Ballet de l’Opéra d’Avignon where, as soloist, she danced in the classical and contemporary repertoires. She rapidly asserted her vocation for choreography by creating many opera ballets such as Les Saltimbanques at the Avignon Opera, The Magic Flute at the Monte Carlo Opera and The Israeli Opera (Tel Aviv), La traviata in Santiago de Chile, Monte Carlo, Saint-Étienne, Genoa and Lausanne, Manon at the Rome Opera, L’Homme de la Mancha and Carmen at the Capitole de Toulouse, La Boîte à joujoux with the Orchestre philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, Les Pêcheurs de perles at the Korea National Opera (Seoul), La Gioconda in Santiago de Chile, Das Fledermaus at the Marseille Opera, Aida at the Shanghai Opera, Guillaume Tell at the Monte Carlo Opera and the Chorégies d’Orange, Handel’s Duello amoroso, Eugene Oneguine, L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, Tannhäuser, Adriana Lecouvreur, Samson et Dalila, Carmen and Thaïs at the Monte Carlo Opera. In Paris she has choreographed the musicals Sol en cirque, written by Zazie, and Aimé et la Planète des Signes. In 2008, 2010 and 2016 she was invited as guest choreographer at the National Romanian Opera House in Timişoara. In November 2020 she was invited by the Opéra Grand Avignon to create The Soldier’s Tale (Stravinsky) with the dancers of the Ballet Grand Avignon. She founded her own company which performs at many venues and cultural events.
Russian soprano Aida Garifullina is the winner of the prestigious 2013 Operalia Competition. She is a regular guest artist of the world’s leading opera houses and concert venues, including the Royal Opera House (London), La Scala (Milan), the Metropolitan Opera (New York), Paris National Opera, Arena di Verona (Italy) and Salzburg Festival. Aida’s highlights include performances at the opening and closing ceremonies of the World Cup in Russia and at the 2018 Concert de Paris for Bastille Day – both events being broadcast live on television to millions worldwide. Season 2018/2019 also saw sensational debuts at Staatsoper Berlin in a new Tcherniakov production of Prokofiev’s Bethrothal in a Monastery conducted by Daniel Barenboim, and at the Metropolitan Opera in Don Giovanni. Aida also joined conductor Long Yu for special performances of Carmina Burana in Shanghai and at the Forbidden City in Beijing, as part of Deutsche Grammophon’s 120th anniversary celebrations which have since been released on CD and DVD. Aida’s stunning self-titled debut album was released globally by Decca Records in February 2017 to unanimous critical acclaim and has since been awarded a prestigious ECHO Klassik award. She was born and grew up in Kazan. It was Aida’s mother, the choirmaster Laylya Ildarovna, who gave Aida her first music lessons and inspired her to be an opera singer. Later, Aida went on to study at the Nuremberg University of Music and the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna; subsequently joining the ensemble at the Wiener Staatsoper where she was a member from 2013-2016.
Loriana Castellano made her debut in 2005 in Duni’s Catone in Utica. In 2007 she made her debut in Dido and Aeneas at the Teatro Comunale in Bologna. She debuted the following roles: Emilia in Vivaldi’s Catone in Utica in Vienna (Theater an der Wien) and in Krakow, Angelina (La Cenerentola) in São Paulo; Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia) in Trento and Seoul; Zelinda (Mysliveček’s Medonte) in Leverkusen; Dorabella (Così fan tutte) in Matera; Fidalma (Il matrimonio segreto) in Treviso, Rovigo, Ferrara, Lucca, Ravenna and at the Innsbrucker Festwochen der Alten Musik; Dorotea (Le convenienze e inconvenienze teatrali) in Taranto. She sang in Vivaldi’s Farnace at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, in Madama Butterfly at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, in Carmen in Xi’an (China), and in Giorgio Battistelli’s 7 Minuti at the Opéra national de Lorraine (Nancy). She starred as Concetta in Battistelli’s Il medico dei pazzi in Nancy and at La Fenice in Venice; Thisbe in La Cenerentola and the Witch in Dido and Aeneas at Teatro Regio in Turin; Zaida in Il turco in Italia in Ravenna, Piacenza and Modena; Lucia in La gazza ladra in Bari; Bradamante in Orlando furioso at the Festival della Valle d’Itria and at La Fenice; Annio in La clemenza di Tito at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. At Monte Carlo Opera, she portrayed Annina (La traviata) in 2013, Zerlina (Don Giovanni) in 2015, Mademoiselle Dangeville (Adriana Lecouvreur) in 2017 and Musico (Manon Lescaut) in 2022.
Federica Sardella was born in Palermo, where she began studying singing at the age of 14. She later obtained a diploma at the Conservatorio di Musica Alessandro Scarlatti in Palermo. During her studies she took part in several competitions and was finalist at the Giovani Emergenti – Premio Ruggero II Città di Cefalù. In 2014, during the 35th season of the Rossini Opera Festival, she attended classes at the Accademia Rossiniana di Pesaro, directed by Alberto Zedda, where she gained considerable distinction. In 2017 she made her debut as soprano solo in Mozart’s Requiem. She then sang the role of Celidora in Mozart’s L’oca del Cairo at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo. During the 2018-19 season she was Elisetta in Il matrimonio segreto by Cimarosa, Eurydice in Offenbach’s Orphée aux Enfers at the Ente Luglio Musicale Trapanese (Trapani), Fanny in Rossini’s La cambiale di matrimonio, and Serafina in Donizetti’s Il campanello di notte at the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari. During the 2019-20 season she was Melpomène, Jane and Mother at the cradle in the world premiere of Joe Schittino’s Opera minima, which was commissioned by the Teatro Municipale in Piacenza. In 2022 she made her debut at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa in a highly acclaimed production of The Merry Widow.
Mexican tenor Javier Camarena is the preeminent Mozart and bel canto specialist of his generation. Praised for his burnished tone, gleaming high notes, flawless coloratura and veracious portrayals, he regularly appears in leading roles alongside today’s foremost stars at the world’s top opera houses. In recent seasons, he showed his great diversity in opera roles and as a concert performer. At the Paris Opera, after his great success as Ernesto in Don Pasquale, he sang Arturo in I puritani and starred in highly acclaimed performances of La Fille du régiment. He made his longed-for debut at the Teatro Real in Madrid as Gualtiero in Il pirata, one of the most difficult tenor roles ever. He returned to the Zurich Opera House as Don Ramiro in La Cenerentola, before also performing this role at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Further concert engagements brought him to the Monte Carlo Opera, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, the Teatro Real and the Auditorio Nacional in Madrid, the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, to name only a few. He portrayed Edgardo (Lucia di Lammermoor) at the Metropolitan Opera, Tamino (The Magic Flute) at the Liceu, Nemorino (L’elisir d’amore) at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and in Bergamo, beginning a longstanding collaboration with the Donizetti Festival. He made his professional debut in 2004 at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, as Tonio in La Fille du régiment. In 2007, he joined the ensemble of the Zurich Opera. Four years later, he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera as Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, one of his signature roles.
Massimo Cavalletti has quickly established himself on the stages of the most prestigious opera houses and festivals worldwide, including the Metropolitan Opera (New York), the Teatro alla Scala (Milan), the Royal Opera House Covent Garden (London), the Vienna State Opera, the Zurich Opera House, the Salzburg Festival and the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan. Recent engagements include: Lescaut in the Met’s new production of Manon Lescaut, which was broadcast in cinemas worldwide; Escamillo in Carmen at the Met and at the Gran Teatre del Liceu of Barcelona; Ford in Falstaff at the New National Theatre Tokyo and in Stockholm; Paolo Albiani in Simon Boccanegra, Ford, Marcello, Figaro and Escamillo at La Scala; his first Renato in Un ballo in maschera with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta; Belcore in L’elisir d’amore at the Zurich Opera House and the Teatro de la Maestranza in Sevilla; Riccardo in I puritani e Don Carlo in Ernani at the Florence Opera House; and Malatesta in Don Pasquale at the Royal Opera House Muscat. Massimo Cavalletti was born in Lucca, where he began his vocal studies with Graziano Polidori before attending the Academy of La Scala in Milan, where he refined his vocal technique with Luciana Serra. His DVD/Blu-Ray recordings include La bohème from Salzburg and Valencia, Falstaff from Zurich and the Salzburg Festival, and Simon Boccanegra from La Scala.
Alejandro Del Angel
Alejandro Del Angel was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. He studied music at the National Conservatory of Music of Mexico and the National School of Music at UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México). He took part in the 20th edition of the opera studio “Taller de Perfeccionamiento Operistico” founded by the SIVAM (Sociedad Internacional de Valores del Arte Mexicano), and Opera Studio Bellas Artes of the Opera National Company in Mexico. He has studied with Joan Dornemann, Marioara Trifan, Denise Massé, Vlad Iftinca, Yelena Kurdina, Sergio Vázquez, Teresa Rodríguez, Adrian Kelly, Hedwig Fassbender, Thomas Barthel and Eytan Pessen. He has also taken master classes with personalities such as Javier Camarena, Arturo Chacón, Francisco Araiza and Piotr Beczała. As a soloist he has performed at many concerts, festivals, productions and opera galas in various theatres and concert halls in Mexico, the USA, Colombia, Poland, Switzerland and Spain, and worked with conductors such as Nicola Luisotti, Donato Renzetti, Simone Young, Srba Dinić, Marcus Poschner, Marco Armiliato and Adrian Kelly. He has won several national and international competitions. He has been a member of the IOS Internationales Opernstudio Zurich for the 2021/2022 and 2022/2023 seasons.
Born in Catania, Roberto Accurso studied in Milan with Carla Castellani. Winner of the international competition “Adriano Belli” in Spoleto, he made his operatic debut at Teatro Lirico Sperimentale in Spoleto as Escamillo in La Tragédie de Carmen, a new version of Bizet’s masterpiece staged by Peter Brook and Marius Constant. Since then, he has been invited by leading Italian and international opera houses, working with conductors such as Riccardo Chailly, Bruno Bartoletti, Daniele Gatti, Gianluigi Gelmetti, Zubin Mehta, Daniel Oren, Seiji Ozawa, Kazushi Ono, Wladimir Jurowski, and with stage directors such as Henning Brockhaus, Robert Carsen, Hugo De Ana, Laurent Pelly, Luca Ronconi, Carlos Saura, and Franco Zeffirelli. He has performed in many prestigious and highly acclaimed productions including La traviata at Teatro alla Scala in Milan for the opening of 2013-14 season, La fanciulla del West at Paris Opera and at Monte Carlo Opera, Guillaume Tell (Leuthold) at La Monnaie in Brussels, Don Giovanni (Masetto) and La Cenerentola (Dandini) at Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, La traviata (Giorgio Germont) at Wexford Opera Festival, Cyrano de Bergerac (Raguenau) at Palau de les Arts in Valencia, alongside Plácido Domingo. Among his latest performances are Gianni Schicchi at La Monnaie, La bohème at Teatro Real in Madrid and at Liceu in Barcelona, La traviata (movie version) at Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, Rigoletto at De Nationale Opera in Amsterdam.
Fabrice Alibert studied singing and composition at the Conservatoire à rayonnement régional of Toulouse. He received a Master’s degree from the Conservatoire national supérieur musique et danse of Lyon, and went on to improve his skills in the class of Andreas Schmidt at the Munich Hochschule. In 2011-12 he attended the CNIPAL in Marseille. He also received further instruction from Alain Garichot, Rie Hamada, Didier Laclau-Barrère, Giovanni Mastino, Udo Reinemann, Ludovic Tézier and Vincent Vittoz. In 2010 he made his stage debut as Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia in a production by Alain Garichot. In 2013 he joined a world-tour of West Side Story with the Solistes de Lyon-Bernard Tétu (China, Canada, Switzerland, France). He subsequently performed in Le Nozze di Figaro (Figaro), The Magic Flute (Papageno), La Cenerentola (Dandini), La Bohème (Marcello), Carmen (Escamillo, Moralès), Pelléas et Mélisande (Pelléas), L’Enfant et les Sortilèges (Clock and Cat), Les Cloches de Corneville (Henry), Roméo et Juliette (Mercutio), Il barbiere di Siviglia (Figaro) at venues including the Scène nationale of Besançon, the Opéras de Clermont-Ferrand, Limoges and Saint-Étienne, the Théâtre impérial in Compiègne, the Summum in Grenoble and the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse. In 2019 and 2020 he performed Taddeo in L’italiana in Algeri on tour with the Ensemble Matheus, under the direction of Jean-Christophe Spinosi. He portrayed Benoit in La Bohème, Second Apprentice in Wozzeck, and Mathieu in Andrea Chénier at the Monte Carlo Opera. In 2021 he made his debut at the Chorégies d’Orange in L’elisir d’amore (Dulcamara), where he also sang Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem.
One of the most talented basses of his generation, Alessandro Spina graduated from the Conservatory “G. Verdi” in Milano. He also trained as an actor. He made his operatic debut as Lunardo in Ermanno Wolf Ferrari’s I quattro rusteghi at Teatro Verdi in Pisa. He has performed in major venues such as Teatro alla Scala (Milan), La Monnaie (Brussels), Monte Carlo Opera (Il pirata and Adriana Lecouvreur), Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (Florence), Teatro dell’Opera (Rome), Teatro La Fenice (Venice), Arena di Verona, Teatro di San Carlo (Naples), Teatro Regio (Parma), Teatro Comunale (Bologna), Opéra royal de Wallonie (Liège), Wexford and Macerata Festivals. His most recent successful performances include Il trovatore (Ferrando) at Macerata Festival, La bohème (Colline) in Liège, Turandot (Timur) and La Cenerentola (Alidoro) in Pavia, Brescia, Cremona and Como, L’elisir d’amore (Dulcamara) at Teatro Coccia in Novara. Recent and future engagements include: Maria Stuarda (Talbot) at Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Il trovatore (Ferrando) in Bari and in Japan, Ernani at Teatro alla Scala, La bohème (Colline) in Marseille and Naples, Adriana Lecouvreur in Marseille, at Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and at Teatro alla Scala, La traviata and La Cenerentola (Alidoro) at Teatro alla Scala, I masnadieri at Teatro alla Scala and at Savonlinna Festival, La forza del Destino (Marchese di Calatrava) at Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, La bohème and Tosca in Napoli and Bari, Cecilia by Licinio Refice in Cagliari.
LES MAÎTRES D’ŒUVRE
Mise en scène
Chef de chœur
Chef de chant
Assistant à la mise en scène
Vanessa d'Ayral de Sérignac
Alejandro Del Angel
Le Baron Douphol
Le Marquis D'Obigny
Le Docteur Grenvil
Vincenzo di Nocera
Ludivine Colle Denane
CHŒUR DE L’OPÉRA DE MONTE-CARLO
Chef de chœur
Consultant pour l’organisation musicale & assistant chef de chœur
Régisseuse du chœur & bibliothécaire
Laura Maria ROMO CONTRERAS
Maria-Elisabetta DE GIORGI
Vincenzo DI NOCERA
Nicolo LA FARCIOLA
Adolfo SCOTTO DI LUZIO
Daniele DEL BUE
ORCHESTRE PHILHARMONIQUE DE MONTE-CARLO
Directeur artistique et musical
NICOLE CURAU DUPUIS
GIAN BATTISTA ERMACORA
FEDERICO ANDRES HOOD
RAPHAËLLE TRUCHOT BARRAYA
PERSONNEL DE SCENE
Directeur de scène
Régisseur de scène
Responsable du bureau d’études
Techniciens de plateau
Chef électricien adjoint
Gaël Le Maux
Chef costumière-habilleuse adjointe
Sous-chef costumière-habilleuse adjointe
Chef perruquière-maquilleuse adjointe
Karl David Gianfreda
Responsable adjointe billetterie
The action takes place in and around Paris circa 1850. Act I takes place in August, Act II in January, Act III in February
An elegant drawing room in a Paris mansion
The famous courtesan Violetta Valery is hosting a party to celebrate her recovery from illness. The guests are arriving, among them her lover Baron Douphol, as well as Marquis d’Obigny, Flora Bervoix and Viscount Gastone de Letorières. Gastone introduces Alfredo Germont to Violetta, telling her that he is an ardent admirer of hers and often enquired about her during her illness. Alfredo overhears this conversation and confirms what Gastone has said. Douphol is angered by this conversation, especially as Violetta had reproached him for being less assiduous than the handsome young stranger. When Gastone asks the Baron to raise a toast to Violetta he refuses and, instead, it is Alfredo who raises the toast (brindisi “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici”). Violetta invites her guests into the adjoining room where music is being played. Suddenly feeling unwell she sits down and notices in a mirror how pale she is. Alfredo has stayed behind in the room with her. He is concerned and urges Violetta to give up her hectic lifestyle and allow him to look after her. She makes light of his proposal, even when he confesses that he has loved her from the very first day he saw her, a year earlier. Violetta tells him that she is incapable of loving anyone, but offers him her friendship (duetto “Un dì felice, eterea”). As Alfredo is leaving Violetta gives him a flower and invites him back the next day. Alfredo is overjoyed and leaves. The guests thank their hostess and also depart (chorus “Si ridesta in ciel l’aurora”). Alone now, Violetta is strangely and unusually troubled by Alfredo’s words (scena “È strano! è strano”). She wonders if Alfredo might be the man to win her heart (cantabile “Ah, fors’è lui”). But she quickly brushes aside this idea as just an illusion (tempo di mezzo “Follie… follie…”). She prefers to continue living a life of freedom and pleasure-seeking (cabaletta “Sempre libera”). Meanwhile, in the street below, Alfredo can be heard singing his love for her.
A country house outside Paris
Five months later. Violet has abandoned her life as a courtesan and is living with Alfredo in a country house outside Paris. Alfredo is very grateful for her sacrifice and sings his joy (scena “Lunge da lei”, cantabile “De’ miei bollenti spiriti”). When Annina, Violetta’s maid, returns from Paris he questions her until she finally reveals that her mistress has sold all her possessions to support their lifestyle (tempo di mezzo “Annina, donde vieni?”). Alfredo’s pride is hurt and, filled with remorse (cabaletta “Oh mio rimorso!”) he leaves for Paris to settle Violetta’s debts. Violetta is left alone. She receives an invitation to a party that evening given by Flora. Violetta’s servant, Giuseppe, announces a visitor: Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germont. He wants to put an end to their liaison as it brings dishonour to their family. He accuses her of ruining Alfredo with her luxury lifestyle. She shows him the documents which prove the opposite (scena e duetto “Madamigella Valery?”). He then tells her about Alfredo’s sister whose fiancé is threatening to break off their engagement because of Alfredo’s dissolute lifestyle (“Pura siccome un angelo”). Violetta defends herself vehemently, assuring him that her love for Alfredo is pure and selfless, that it will not last long as she is suffering from an incurable illness (“Non sapete quale affetto”). But Germont remains unmoved, cynically warning her that Alfredo will abandon her when her charms have faded, as their union has not been blessed by the sacred vows of marriage.
All hope lost, Violetta agrees to leave Alfredo. Realising her sincerity and the sacrifice she is making Germont comforts her (“Dite alla giovine sì bella e pura / Piangi, piangi, o misera”). Knowing that this decision will kill her, Violetta pleads with Germont to tell Alfredo the truth one day so that he will not curse her memory (cabaletta “Morrò!... la mia memoria non fia ch’ei maledica”). Just as she is writing a farewell letter to Alfredo he suddenly enters. He is troubled by a very stern letter from his father announcing his visit. Struggling to control her emotions Violetta begs him to continue loving her as she loves him (“Amami, Alfredo, amami quant’io t’amo”). Before leaving for Flora’s party she has the fateful letter delivered to Alfredo. Germont returns as Alfredo is opening the letter. Filled with despair he throws himself into his father’s arms. Germont tries to console him by reminding him of his home in Provence, which Alfredo had abandoned for Paris, causing much distress to his family (cantabile “Di Provenza il mar, il suol”). Convinced that the Baron is to blame for their break-up Alfredo’s sorrow turns into anger (tempo di mezzo “Mille serpi divoranno il petto”). Germont begs him to put this unhappy affair behind him and return home to his family (cabaletta “Copriam d’oblio il passato”). But upon discovering the invitation to Flora’s party, Alfredo rushes over there.
The ballroom in Flora’s palace
Wonderful music is being played. The latest gossip is on everyone’s lips: Violetta and Alfredo have separated. The gypsy entertainers arrive. They tell the guests’ fortunes and reconcile Flora and Marquis who were on bad terms (Gypsy chorus “Noi siamo zingarelle”). Gastone and the matadors join in the festivities (Gastone and the Matador chorus “Di Madride noi siam matadori / È Piquillo un bel gagliardo”). Alfredo suddenly appears, he is alone; he sits down at a gambling table. Violetta enters on the Baron’s arm. On seeing Alfredo, she regrets having come. Alfredo is winning at cards and muttering comments: “Unlucky in love, lucky at gambling!” He continues to win while making more cynical remarks. Everyone feels the tension rising and Violetta is on the verge of collapse. In a brief private conversation with Violetta he tries to win her back, but she claims that she loves Douphol. Alfredo then calls in all the guests and declares that they are witnesses to his intention to repay Violetta in full for all he has cost her. He hurls his winnings at her feet (“Ogni suo aver tal femmina”). Violetta faints. The guests are outraged by his behaviour, as is Germont who has just arrived. He rebukes his son in front of all the guests. Alfredo is seized with remorse. Germont would like to reveal Violetta’s sacrifice, but does not have the right. Violetta comes round and is comforted by the other guests, while the Baron vows to avenge her (largo concertato “Di sprezzo degno sè stesso”).
Violetta’s bedroom, in her Paris home
Violetta’s tuberculosis is worsening and she is dying. Her faithful maid Annina tries to relieve her mistress’s suffering with the help of Doctor Grenvil who has lost all hope of a recovery. Yet again Violetta reads Giorgio Germont’s letter thanking her for keeping her promise. He informs her that the duel has taken place (the Baron was only slightly wounded) and that he has told the truth to Alfredo who would like to visit her (“Teneste la promessa”). But Violetta’s hope is shortlived when she sees her emaciated face and realises that her end is near. She bids farewell to her memories and her dreams of happiness (“Addio, del passato bei sogni ridenti”). Outside the Carnival is in full swing in readiness for the sacrifice of the fatted ox (baccanale “Largo al quadrupede”). Alfredo rushes in, imploring Violetta’s forgiveness. He promises to take her far away from Paris and that she will become well again (duetto “Parigi, o cara, noi lasceremo”). But Violetta becomes weaker and Alfredo realises with horror the seriousness of her condition. It is now too late. Violetta revolts at dying so young, and Alfredo’s tears mingle with hers (“Gran Dio! morir sì giovine”). Germont enters with the doctor. He is overcome with remorse. In one final effort, before dying in his arms, Violetta makes Alfredo promise to begin a new life.
Traduction Eileen McFadden ©Opéra de Monte-Carlo 2023
In 1852, while working on Il trovatore for Rome, Verdi was in negotiations for a new opera with the directors of La Fenice in Venice, where Rigoletto had triumphed the previous year. The contract was signed on May 4th, but Verdi was slow in informing them of his chosen subject. For a long time he had been considering a play by Alexandre Dumas Fils, La Dame aux camélias – he had seen the premiere on 2nd February 1852 in Paris, at the Théâtre du Vaudeville: “a subject all set, and which would certainly be effective”, he promised La Fenice. But he abandoned the idea, as he had no guarantee that he would have a prima donna worthy of the role. Francesco Maria Piave, the librettist, continued scouting for subjects. In the autumn Verdi took the plunge. Composing La traviata proved to be a difficult task, interrupted by the premiere in Rome of Il trovatore (19th January 1853). Every day, his fears regarding the cast heightened, made worse by an anonymous letter received in Busetto. He made vain attempts to oppose giving the role of Violetta to Fanny Salvini-Donatelli, a fine virtuoso, but a poor actress. Shocked at the idea of performing an opera in contemporary costumes, the theatre directors also resituated the action from Louis-Philippe to Louis XIV, and publicly announced the date of the premiere: 6th March 1853: “The scene takes place in Paris and its surroundings, circa 1700.”
A recipe for disaster, and a disaster it was. Disconcerted by this opera, the baritone was clearly hostile. The tenor Gaziani lost his voice. The Salvini-Donatelli, who performed well in the first act, proved to be incapable of exhibiting tormented emotions in the following acts, and in the final scene this buxom woman, who was supposed to be dying of consumption, was greeted by general hilarity on the part of the audience.
Verdi took it all philosophically: “Yesterday, La traviata was a flop. Was it my fault or the singers’ fault? The future will judge.” The future came in the form of Antonio Gallo: on 6th May 1853, the director of the Teatro San Benedetto in Venice was brave enough to resuscitate – with a new cast - the unfortunate Traviata, whose resounding failure appeared to have condemned it to death. Despite the persistence of the Louis XIV costumes, it was a triumph. Verdi’s lapidary conclusion: “The work presented at the San Benedetto was the same as at La Fenice, except for some adjustments that I made myself. There, it was failure, here it is all the rage. Draw your own conclusions.” Overwhelmed in 1853 by the hordes of detractors, the Gazetta officiale di Venezia was jubilant: “He who in the past was considered wrong, is today right; and the critic can rejoice at not having howled with the wolves and to have had the courage of his opinions. […] He whose eyes remain dry (while listening to this work) does not have a human heart in his breast, he is of the race of rocks and pebbles.” Galvanized by several evenings of triumph at the San Benedetto, La traviata went on to conquer Italy (at times under the title of Violetta), and then Europe. And, with it, the success we all know…
Claire Delamarche, translated by Mary McCabe © Opéra de Monte-Carlo 2023
That Verdi chose this contemporary subject is rather surprising. Like the hunchback Rigoletto or the gypsies Manrico and Azucena in Il trovatore, the courtesan Violetta Valéry (alias Marguerite Gautier, alias Marie Duplessis) is a social outcast. In their own way, the bandits Carlo Moor (I masnadieri) and Ernani, or the bastard child Raffaele, (Stiffelio) were also outcasts, as was the foreigner Alvaro in La forza del destino; but in the 1851-1853 trilogy, marginality becomes the key element of the drama.
Perhaps this sudden concurrence finds parallels with Verdi’s private life. Since 1848 he had been living with Giuseppina Strepponi, a famous soprano, the same soprano who, in 1839, when she was the mistress of the director of La Scala, had taken advantage of her liaison to stage Verdi’s first opera, Oberto, at the prestigious Milan theatre. The couple defied social mores by appearing together in public, and only married (in great secrecy) in 1859. Their witnesses were the coachman and the bell ringer.
In January 1853 Verdi responded to the nasty gossip in a long letter to Antonio Barezzi, his benefactor and the father of his first wife, Margherita, who had died thirteen years earlier: “I have nothing to hide. A woman is living with me; she is free, independent, and, like me, enjoys a solitary life, which protects her from being in want. Neither I, nor she, are accountable to anyone for our actions; besides, who knows anything about our relationship? Our affairs? Our ties? My rights over her, and her rights over me? Who knows if she is my wife? And, if this is the case, who knows the motives, or the purpose behind our decision to make this relationship public? Who knows if this is good or bad? […] In any event, this woman, in my house, deserves the same respect as I do. She is totally entitled to this respect, as much for her behaviour as her intellect, and for the special consideration due to those who are full of consideration for others.” Nevertheless, this fully asserted “illegitimacy” bothered Verdi more than he cared to admit. He did not present his companion to the high society in Milan, nor did she accompany him to the premieres of Il trovatore, Rigoletto or La traviata. On several occasions, when she did accompany him on visits to friends, it was under the veil of secrecy. On 3rd January 1853 Giuseppina complained that they lived together “a solitary, almost reckless, life”. The years 1851 to 1853 were a crisis period for the couple. Germont’s appalling statement to Violetta in the second act of La traviata certainly resonated with special meaning in Strepponi’s ears: “One day, when time will have faded your charms, lassitude will soon appear. What will happen then? Think about it! The sweetest emotions will be of no comfort, as these ties will not have been blessed by heaven.” In light of his biography, the entire opera was for Verdi a vindication.
Whatever aspects of Verdi’s private life may have influenced his choice of La Dame aux camélias, it was mainly a response to stylistic imperatives. On 1st January 1853 Verdi wrote to the composer Cesare De Sanctis: “I wish for nothing more than to find a fine libretto (therefore, a good poet) […]; it is impossible, or almost impossible, that anyone else could imagine what I want: I want new, grand, lovely, varied, ardent subjects of the highest order, with new forms, etc. etc., that at the same time can be set to music […]. In Venice I’ll do La Dame aux camélias, that might perhaps be called Traviata. A contemporary subject. Perhaps someone else would not have chosen it because of the costumes, or for a thousand other stupid considerations. Everyone howled when I suggested including a hunchback. Well, I was happy to do Rigoletto, as well as Macbeth etc. etc. etc.” One of the novelties of La traviata is to use transparent preludes to open acts I and III, considered similar to those of Lohengrin, the sonorities of which Verdi (who until then had never heard a note of Wagner) would only discover in Boccanegra et Aida.
That same year the discussions with Antonio Somma regarding the libretto of King Lear (that in the end would never be set to music) show Verdi resolutely focused on a new style of opera. In Verdi’s production the contemporary subject is isolated, as with Stiffelio. After La traviata Verdi returned to historical subjects: Les Vêpres siciliennes, Don Carlos, Simon Boccanegra, Aida, Otello). Violetta Valéry, on the other hand, belongs to a long line of increasingly complex characters. The more unequivocal heroes of the first operas symbolize an emotion or distinct trait of character: desire for revenge, love, heroism, bravery. However, along the line drawn by Lady Macbeth, Luisa Miller and Stiffelio, these stereotypes become fractured. The 1851-1853 trilogy, with its deviant characters, goes a step further. Verdi needed to go through the phase of realism in order to access “real” characters. Having crossed this Rubicon with La traviata, he could then go on to “invent the real”, according to his expression in October 1876 in reference to King Lear, which he will never complete. The epitome of authenticity will be Shakespeare, and the heights of complexity will be reached with the characters of Otello and Falstaff.
Claire Delamarche, translated by Mary McCabe © Opéra de Monte-Carlo 2023
La traviata still belongs to the category of number operas, which was the standard format in Italy up until the mid-19th century, resting on the Rossini model of the double aria, the base unit consisting of four parts: a scena in free verse, characterised by music changes (a legacy of the old recitative), followed by the first slow and lyric part of the aria (a cantabile highlighting the singer’s legato and timbre), a tempo di mezzo (a second section in free style, generated by a dramatic turn of events justifying the sudden change of tone by the soloist), and lastly the second brilliant and virtuoso part of the aria, the cabaletta. The arias of Alfredo (“De’ miei bollenti spiriti”) and Germont (“Di Provenza il mar, il suol”), in act II, adhere strictly to this format. As for the ensembles, concertante or not, they follow the traditional structure, fairly similar in this respect to that of the arias (tempo d’attacco, cantabile or largo concertato, tempo di mezzo, cabaletta or stretto). The finale of act II is one of the finest examples of concertante finales in Verdi’s work. And yet, if we look closer, this model fractures in several places: Verdi is beginning to feel too restricted. From now on, it is not the actions of his characters that will interest him, but their emotions. The Germonts, father and son, Giorgio and Alfredo, still belong to the race of active protagonists, largely following the old model. But Violetta can only submit to the tragic movement that Giorgio and Alfredo, in turn, have set in motion. Opposite them she is but reaction, and Verdi explores the meanders of her soul. To do this, he needs formal freedom. Indeed, how could the restrictive form of a two-part aria suffice to render the complexity of this constantly evolving character, plagued by conflicting thoughts? The boundaries disintegrate, therefore, between scena and aria, cantabile or cabaletta, to the advantage of more unorthodox structures and a more varied arias (at times almost declamatory), which at the time caused a scandal. Thus, the grand aria of the heroine, in act I, provides the first example in Verdi’s work (and probably in Italian opera) of a “self-generated” tempo di mezzo: the passage from the cantabile to the cabaletta is justified by Violetta’s psychological confusion, and no longer, as was previously the rule, by the sudden intervention of another character, creating a dramatic turn of events. Violetta has welcomed her guests and shared drinks with Alfredo in an atmosphere of general merriment – in the famous brindisi “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici”. Left alone, she relives the young man’s declaration of undying love for her (scena “È strano…”), indulging in a dream of mutual love (cantabile “Ah fors’è lui”). In her exaltation she reiterates the literary and musical terms of Alfredo’s passionate declaration: “With that love which is the very breath of the universe itself – mysterious, noble, both cross and ecstasy of the heart.” (This key theme is repeated twice in act III, played each time by two solo violins, like a fragile memory: when Violetta takes Germont’s letter to read it, and at the moment of her last breath.) But doubt sets in: Violetta refuses to believe in such happiness and gives in to despair in the tempo di mezzo (“Follie… follie”), and makes the decision to continue with her present life, a joyous whirlwind (dazzling vocalises on the verb “gioir “, rejoice). She then gives free rein to her exhilaration, to a heady virtuosity that expresses her joy at returning to a life of freedom and pleasure (cabaletta “Sempre libera”).
A fourth, omnipresent, character arrives to interfere in this trio: the crowd. Following a procedure dear to him, Verdi plays on the contrasts between dazzling festivities and intimate scenes in order to accentuate the horror of the unfolding drama and the solitude of its protagonists. In the gripping finale of act II, the festivities at Flora’s house, matadors and bohemians fill the masked ball with colour, the guests’ laughter covers the whisperings: “Violetta and Germont have separated…” Convinced that Violetta has betrayed him, Alfredo humiliates her in front of the horrified mass of guests. The crowd telescopes the intimate. Germont, a spectator of the scene, refrains from intervening.
In the third act Violetta is dying. Only the servant Annina remains faithful. Yet the crowd does not release their prey. Violetta receives Germont’s letter of confession and gives in to her melancholy: the memories of past festivities return, in the form of a chaotic waltz drawn out to a 6/8 (“Addio, del passato”). At the height of Violetta’s impassioned cry, when she calls herself traviata (fallen woman), the oboe repeats it in a superb overlap (high A). No sooner have her memories vanished, the sounds of a bacchanal can be heard under Violetta’s window: it is the Carnival procession (the real Marie Duplessis also died on Carnival day in 1832). They are celebrating the sacrifice of the fattened ox. The symbol is clear: Violetta did not die of consumption, but of the unbearable weight of a society that sacrificed her on the altar of virtue. At this moment we remember the sinister matadors parading at Flora’s house, the arena where Alfredo, the defenceless arm of a morale that submerged him, put her to death. In vain, Germont and Alfredo rush to the dying Violetta’s bedside, they can no longer stop the infernal machine they have set in motion.
Claire Delamarche translated by Mary McCabe © Opéra de Monte-Carlo 2023