La Traviata

Giuseppe Verdi

Opera in four acts 
Libretto: Francesco Maria Piave after La Dame aux camèlias by Alexandre Dumas fils
Polish premiere: 27 April 1856, Teatr Wielki, Warsaw
Premiere of this production: 25 February 2010, Teatr Wielki, Warsaw
In the original Italian with Polish surtitles

The archetype of the naive lover who believes his love will redeem a fallen woman is a recurring motif in our culture and arts, pop music included. Think The Police and their Roxanne: I love you so ‘you don’t have to put on the red light’. She doesn’t? Perhaps she wants to? Violetta certainly does: she wants to belong to everyone, which means she’ll belong to no-one. Rumour has it that Madame Duplessis, who inspired Dumas’s Lady of the Camellias and Verdi’s Violetta, would not wear the same pair of gloves twice. On one hand, she is engulfed by flaming passion, on the other she is haunted by death. Mariusz Treliński sets his Traviata in the world of contemporary hedonism, celebrity razzmatazz, clubbing, cabaret, polyamory, and narcissist culture. The production features Karl Lagerfeld’s lookalike, stars of popular dance TV shows, and costumes devised by Warsaw’s favourite fashion designers. A tour de force on the part of set designer Boris Kudlička, this production of La Traviata is an uber-opera. It goes outside the confines of the opera house. Its monumental sets are too big even for Europe’s largest theatre stage: they need to be moved from left to right to reveal new spaces inhabited by buzzing crowds of characters. And so movement amplifiers movement, as if in reaction to Violetta’s fears, who sings ‘I’ll die if I stop,’ and ‘Once I rest, it will be forever.’



Chorus and Orchestra of the Polish National Opera


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    Act I

    Paris: city of fun, hub of the universe. In that city lives Violetta – the queen of good living. She is faithful to one rule, that freedom is the most important thing of all. She doesn’t want to love, because love means loss of freedom. A protégée of the wealthy Douphol, she is a star of the cabaret, the most fashionable venue in town. Alfredo, who has escaped from his native countryside, arrives one night. Stunned, he immediately falls in love with Violetta. In a world where no one remembers about monogamy, his genuine love actually seems grotesque, naïve. Alfredo raises his glass in a passionate toast to one and only true love. Violetta, on the other hand, joins in the praise of good fun, but a deadly disease causes her to collapse before everybody’s eyes. What a shock, this is no place for dying, here you may at best play games with death. Alfredo is truly concerned about Violetta’s state, he takes care of her, proposes to her, speaks of his love. Violetta resists his love, but…

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    Act II

    An escape from the city, from the vanity fair. Violetta and Alfredo at a luxury villa. Three months have passed since they left Paris. Alfredo has changed greatly, he is now used to a lavish lifestyle and has lost his provincial humility. From Annina, Violetta’s maid, he learns that his lover has been selling off her assets to cover the costs of living during their luxury holiday from life. Alfredo realizes he has become a kept man. He goes to Paris to prevent his lover’s ruin, and meanwhile Violetta receives a visit from Germont – Alfredo’s father, who vehemently opposes his son’s relationship with a prostitute. He absolutely demands that Violetta give up Alfredo. Their relationship is jeopardizing his daughter’s advantageous marriage. Violetta, who has been expecting to be punished for her unexpected happiness, agrees. Feeling wretched, she immediately leaves for Paris. She writes a farewell letter – her lover has to believe she has been unfaithful and start hating her. Alfredo returns to the country, finds Violetta gone but also finds the letter and his father there. Germont persuades his son to return to his family. Instead, his son wants to find Violetta at once and take revenge for her infidelity.

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    Act III

    In Paris it is the carnival, a time of masks and costumes. For Violetta, however, it is not the same city. Paris has become terrifying. It has turned into an arena where Violetta will commit a kind of public suicide. Gypsies who foretell love, to her are a sign of the inevitability of her destiny. Matadors are sophisticated, perverse killers. Violetta interrupts her performance. Just then, Alfredo appears; he is playing cards for high stakes, for Violetta in a sense, hoping to return to the country together, to repay his unwanted debt of a kept man. But Violetta, true to her word, discourages her beloved, lying that she wants to remain faithful to Douphol. Determined and jealous, Alfredo disgraces Violetta in public by tossing her the money she has spent on him. His violent gesture makes an impression even on this blasé society.

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    Act IV

    Emptiness, loneliness. Nothing is left for the abandoned and feverish Violetta but to die. She hears the doctor’s sentence – just a few more hours of life left. The words from Germont’s letter, in which he begs her forgiveness and announces his and Alfredo’s arrival, keep going through her mind like a mantra. A curt ‘too late’ testifies to Violetta’s fever-sharpened awareness. The dream is over, but her final moments resemble a film about happy love, in which Violetta would want to live, Alfredo would do anything to make up for past wrongs, and Germont would do anything for forgiveness. But it is all too late. Violetta dies.


  • Patrons of Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

  • Partners of the Opera Academy

  • Partners of Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

  • Media patrons