Italian Opera – Class 4

Verdi: La Traviata 

Music- Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)

Libretto- Francesco Maria Piave 

Premiere- La Fenice, Venice (1853)

Setting- Paris, about 1850

Principal Roles:

Violetta Valery, Alfredo Germont, Giorgio Germont

Synopsis:

After a brief orchestral prelude, Act 1 begins at one of Violetta’s brilliant supper parties. The beautiful but frail demi-mondaine meets the well-born Alfredo Germont, and he convinces her to abandon her shallow life of pleasure. In Act 2, Alfredo’s father Giorgio Germont, intrudes on their idyllic existence in the country and although realizing her sincerity, persists in his demand that Violetta renounce Alfredo. Violetta determines to make the sacrifice and departs, leaving only a note for Alfredo. She appears at a ball at friend Flora’s house on the arm of an old admirer, Baron Douphol, to the fury of Alfredo. The two men play at cards and Alfredo wins consistently. Unable to persuade Violetta to go with him, Alfredo insults her and is then challenged by the Baron. As Act 3 begins, we find Violetta extremely ill, all her friends have deserted her, and she is virtually penniless. Alfredo at last returns. His father has told him of Violetta’s noble sacrifice and urges him to seek her forgiveness. Overjoyed at the sight of him, Violetta is briefly restored but it is too late. As the Germont and the doctor enter, Violetta dies in Alfredo’s arms. 

YouTube Video Links:

LA Opera Production, 2006, Fleming, Villazon (English Subtitles)

ACT I-

[10:00-13:05] Alfredo & ensemble brindisi “Libiamo ne’lieti calici”

[22:45-33:10] Violetta Scena “Ah, fors’e lui” & “Sempre libera”

ACT 2-

[1:08:40-1:12:52] Germont’s aria “Di Provenza il mar”

[1:27:44-1:38:30] Violetta & Alfredo, then ensemble finale

ACT 3-

[2:06:15-2:12:25] Violetta & Alfredo, Germont, Annina & Dr. Grenville, finale

Terminology:

prelude 

Demi-mondaine

brindisi

comprimario

Scena

cabaletta

Verdi baritone

finale di Concertante

tenore robusto

leitmotif

Verdi:  Othello 

Music- Giuseppe Verdi 

Libretto- Arrigo Boito

Premiere- La Scala, Milan (1887)

Setting- Cyprus, late 15th century

Principal Roles:

Otello, Desdemona, Iago

Synopsis:

Otello, a Moor, governor of Cyprus, is welcomed back from a war with the Turks by his bride, Desdemona, and the citizens of Cyprus. Iago, his ensign is jealous and bitterly angry that Otello has promoted another officer, Cassio. Iago proceeds to arouse Otello’s jealousy by making him suspicious of his wife and Cassio, who he says has dreamed about Desdemona. Further, he claims to have seen Desdemona’s wedding handkerchief in Cassio’s hands. Otello falls prey to Iago’s maneuvering and is convinced of his wife’s guilt. He insults her in front of the visiting ambassador from Venice. Later he strangles her in her bed but then learns from the horrified Emilia, Desdemona’s maid & Iago’s wife, that his wife is innocent. The opera concludes when he stabs himself and dies at her side.

YouTube Links:

ACT I-

[2:20-8:46] Opening ensemble

[23:45-32:45] Otello & Desdemona, love scene

ACT2-

[1:01:00-1:06:00]- Otello & Iago, act finale

ACT 4- 

[1:59:35-1:59:57] Desdemona aria “Ave Maria”

[2:10:00-2:15:50] Otello & ensemble finale

Recommended operas for further study:

Early Period-

Nabucco

Ernani

Macbeth

Middle Period-

Rigoletto

Il Trovatore

Un Ballo in maschera

La Forza del destino

Late Period-

Don Carlo

Aida

Falstaff

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