A Parisian courtesan sacrifices her one hope of personal happiness for the sake of her lover.
Dumas’ novel The Lady of the Camellias took Verdi’s breath away. He knew the location well – Paris, a city full of bustle, had never been his favourite and this tragic tale reminded him also of his own experience. In 1847 after some time he met again with his friend and the interpreter of his early works, the soprano Giuseppina Strepponi. They became close and their deep bond lasted until the end of her life. For years they cohabited and Verdi experienced for himself society’s opposition to “illegal” relationships. They were forced to live in seclusion in his manor at Sant’ Agata. His personal experience undoubtedly intensified his understanding and sympathy for the heroine, which permeates the whole opera… Probably none of those attending the Venetian premiere, which was a destructive fiasco, could have believed that they had witnessed the birth of one of the most popular and most performed Italian operas. Verdi always sought for his operas works with a dramatic plot and special characters and these were certainly present in Dumas’ work. Clear and moving lyrical music, which in Italian bel canto closely combined with dramatic expression, led to the creation of a timeless opera. The classical production offers a remarkable perspective on the life of a woman on the edges of society.
Janáček Opera Ensemble and Orchestra of the National Theatre Brno