Synopsis

Act 1

A lively party is underway at the home of Violetta Valéry, a glamorous Parisian courtesan. She’s been gravely ill but is feeling better and insists on living every day as if it were her last, with Baron Douphol, one of her many admirers, paying the bills. Alfredo Germont, an awkward admirer of Violetta’s, arrives at the party and leads the guests in a brindisi, a catchy drinking song in waltz time that pays tribute to beauty and love. (“Libiamo, libiamo...”) When Violetta appears faint, Alfredo confesses he’s loved her from a distance. (“Un di felice”) Violetta says she’s unworthy of such love but pledges friendship. Meanwhile, she vows to remain free to love whomever she desires. (“Sempre libera...”)

Intermission

Act 2

Scene One - Months have passed. Violetta has renounced her pleasure loving ways and is living a domestic life with Alfredo in the country. She is, however, in bad financial shape and is selling her possessions to cover their living expenses. When Alfredo goes to Paris to raise money, Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father, meets Violetta and warns her to leave his son alone. Violetta reluctantly agrees to give him up. When he reads her farewell letter, Alfredo is devastated. Germont urges his son to return to his family (“Di provenza il mar,”) but Alfredo resolves to find Violetta and change her mind.

Brief Intermission

Scene Two - At a masked ball, Violetta arrives on the arm of Baron Douphol. Alfredo and the Baron play cards, Alfredo wins big, and the game turns bitter. Violetta tells Alfredo she loves the Baron. Angry and frustrated, Alfredo throws a purse at her feet, saying she’s nothing but a prostitute. The Baron challenges Alfredo to a duel and Germont rebukes his son for his callous behavior.

Act 3

Violetta is dying and bids farewell to the world. (“Addio del passato”) Alfredo who fled abroad returns to Paris after his father writes to tell him of Violetta’s sacrifice. The two lovers dream of a new life together (“Parigi, o cara.”) but too late, as Violetta dies in his arms.

- Performance notes by Eugene Carlson