A while back, someone offered me tickets to go and see La Traviata at the ENO. I respectfully declined because I thought I would feel too out of place “At The Opera.” Whenever I’ve seen TV shows where people go to the opera, they’re wearing amazingly posh outfits and look incredibly glamorous. I knew there was absolutely nothing in my wardrobe that would fit the bill, and didn’t want to spend an evening feeling horribly out of place.
Then a friend told me that actually, the ENO is not that sort of place; there’s no real dress code, and she’s been in jeans many a time.
La Traviata translates as “The Fallen Woman” and is one of the most famous operas in the world. It’s about a popular Parisian courtesan, Violetta, who meets a man and moves away from her old life to live with him in the suburbs – but the man’s father visits her and tells her she must leave her lover, because of her past as a courtesan. She leaves without telling her lover why, and returns to Paris – where her lover finds her at a party with one of her old patrons and causes a bit of a scene, flinging accusations in front of everyone. In the final act, Violetta is dying from a terrible disease. Her lover has finally discovered the truth from his father and visits her on her death bed. She forgives him and they swear to be together forever, but it’s too late. As she breathes her final breaths, Violetta remembers her time with her lover.
It sounds like a properly miserable tale, but I would still love to see it. Quite often, as with Shakespeare plays and so on, when you read or watch these amazing classics, you instantly recognise the plot lines and characters in more recent films. A lot of what we see on our screens these days is just a recycling of something much older, with more depth and better character development than anyone makes an effort for these days.
La Traviata is a love story shrouded in misery – those always make the best stories, don’t they? I think next time I’m offered tickets to see La Traviata I’ll accept!