La traviata

Fondazione Pergolesi SpontiniIf you’ve never thought of going to the opera, think again. Critics call La traviata (The fallen woman) ‘an opera so famous that millions who’ve never seen a production can hum its tunes’. From Fondazione Pergolesi Spontini and Victorian Opera, comes the Australian premiere of this celebrated European production dubbed ‘the traviata of the mirrors’.

Famed for its giant hanging mirror, this unique vision of Verdi’s much loved classic features Australian singing revelation Jessica Pratt, described by the New York Times as ‘a brilliant new presence’. Having recently appeared in the world renowned opera house La Scala (Italy), Jessica takes on the lead role of Violetta, considered as the pinnacle of soprano repertoire.

Violetta Valéry is a celebrated courtesan who must choose between her desire for high society and her longing for love. At one of her brilliant supper parties, Violetta meets the well-born Alfredo Germont, and for love of him abandons her feverish life of pleasure.

Alfredo’s father 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.

s house on the arm of an old admirer, Baron Douphol, to the fury of Alfredo. The two men play at cards; Alfredo wins consistently. Unable to persuade Violetta to go with him, Alfredo insults her and is challenged by the Baron. Violetta becomes ill, and all her friends desert her, leaving her virtually penniless.

Alfredo at last returns. His father has told him of Violetta’s noble renunciation, and urged him to seek her forgiveness. Overjoyed at the sight of him, Violetta attempts to rise. But it is too late. As Germont and the doctor enter, Violetta dies in Alfredo’s arms.

La traviata also features Alessandro Scotto di Luzio as Alfredo Germont, José Carbó as Giorgio Germont, Dimity Shepherd as Flora Bervoix, Carlos E. Bárcenas as Gastone de Letorières, Nathan Lay as Baron Douphol, Jeremy Kleeman as Marchese d’Obigny and Jerzy Kozlowski as Doctor Grenvil.

A feature of the design by legendary European designer Josef Svoboda is an enormous mirror suspended above the stage, which Victorian Opera’s Artistic Director Richard Mills says helps to convey composer Giuseppe Verdi’s original intentions.

“The scenic artist is literally holding a mirror up to society’s hypocrisy, bringing the audience into the world of courtesan Violetta Valéry and inviting them to reflect on their own stories of love and loss,” says Mills.

Josef Svoboda died in 2002 at 81 years of age, having worked on over 700 stage productions and collaborated with renowned directors including Milos Forman on the film, Amadeus and Laurence Olivier on the Chekov play, Three Sisters.

Although some of his work was quite minimalist, Svoboda came to be known as an innovator in his use of video, projection and light – so much so that he invented a new high intensity stage light, the ‘Svoboda’. His interest in the properties of projection extended to the use of large scale reflections, the most notable example of which is the ‘Traviata of the Mirrors’.

La traviata
Her Majesty’s Theatre, Exhibition Street, Melbourne
Season: 17 – 29 May 2014
Bookings: 1300 795 012 or online at:

Victorian Opera’s season of La traviata is presented in association with Fondazione Pergolesi Spontini. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: courtesy of Fondazione Pergolesi Spontini, © Foto Binci