Opera Philadelphia

The Story of LA TRAVIATA

Setting: Paris, around the 1950s

Violetta Valéry [vee-oh-LET-a/val-eh-REE] Alfredo Germont [ahl-FRE-doh/jer-MONT] | Giorgio Germont [JOR-jo/jer-MONT]



It’s August in mid-century Paris, and in the midst of a life of nonstop parties, the young and widely adored courtesan [KOR-tuh-zn], Violetta Valéry, is forced to come to terms with her ailing health and aching heart. After being introduced to a new admirer, the persistent and provincial [pruh-VIN-chl] Alfredo Germont, she is left contemplating [KAAN-tuhm-plei-tuhng] her lifestyle, her future, and the nature of love.

In an act at odds with everything she’s stood for, Violetta gifts Alfredo with her favorite flower, a camellia [kuh-MEE-lee-uh], telling him to return it to her when it has faded.

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Three months later, Violetta and Alfredo are living happily in a quiet country house, leaving the parties of Paris far behind them. But one day, while Alfredo is away on a business trip, his father Giorgio Germont visits Violetta to try and break up their proposal [pruh-POW-zl]. Violetta manages to convince him of her evolution, but it doesn’t change his mind on the subject, not with the sanctity [SANGK-tuh-teeof a family name at stake. Violetta comes to understand the negative impact her old life has on the new life of Germont daughter and grievingly [GREE-vuhng-leedecides to break up with Alfredo, with the promise that Germont one day explains the reason to his son.

Returning to her world of parties, Violetta is eventually confronted by Alfredo who, angered and envious [EN-vee-uhs], proceeds to humiliate her in front of everyone in attendance when she declines his advances. His father violently rebukes [ruh-BYOOKS] him and the entire society is outraged.



A month later, Violetta is destitute [DEH-stuh-toot] and dying in a modest Paris apartment. It is here in her last hours that she receives a remorseful [ruh-MORS-fl] letter from Giorgio Germont, confessing that he had written to Alfredo about her sacrifice and they were both on their way to visit her. But, tragically, their return occurs too late and Alfredo confesses his love one final time as Violetta dies comfortably with the knowledge that she is finally forgiven.

Explore how others tell the story

Metropolitan Opera

Explore an illustrated synopsis of La traviata 


WXQR Radio

WQXR morning host Jeff Spurgeon breaks down Verdi's La traviata in three minutes flat.


Opera in Brief

A fun, animated retelling of the story in less than 3 minutes.


Opera Cheats

Boy meets Courtesan. Courtesan has tuberculosis. Need we say more?


Dedicated funding for the Sounds of Learning Dress Rehearsal Program has been provided by The William Penn Foundation, Hamilton Family Charitable Trust, Eugene Garfield Foundation, Wells Fargo, Universal Health Services, Hirsig Family Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation, The McLean Contributionship, and Mr. William A. Loeb

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