Yesterday we went to see La Traviata at the Sydney Opera House. It is supposed to be an excellent starter opera, and after watching it, I can confirm that it’s ideal for someone who doesn’t know a lot about this genre for starters the translation of what the singers are saying in Italian is in English above the stage).
Act I opens with the most beautiful set and the return of Violetta, a favourite courtesan, to Paris after she’s been away convalescing. The costumes are incredibly lavish, and the drinking song, perhaps the most famous song in the opera is a lot of fun.
Act II shows the two lovers living happily together, but all is not well. Violetta has to leave the male lead, Alfredo. The opera ends in a typical tragic fashion with the lovers briefly reunited and happy before Violetta’s death.
La Traviata has inspired plenty of popular culture; think Moulin Rouge or Pretty Woman. In fact, when Edward takes Vivian to the opera in Pretty Woman, they see La Traviata, and when he drives up to serenade her at the end of the movie, he plays a piece from the opera at top volume from his limo.
The overall inspiration for La Traviata is even based on a real woman, Marie Duplessis, a courtesan who died of TB aged 23. After her death, the whole of Paris went into mourning.
This particular production is truly engaging and is directed by Elijah Moshinsky with costumes and set designs drawn from detailed 19th-century impressionist paintings.
Watching the Opera in the Sydney Opera House is an extraordinary experience because of the incredible location. The sun setting over the harbour in the intervals contributes to the lavish nature of the performance. As we watched this Opera while we were on holiday from the UK we were even lucky enough to be given a gift, a toy Koala dressed in an Opera Australia outfit.