Verdi's “La Traviata”
Premieres Friday, August 25 at 9 p.m. on PBS
(Check your local listings)
In a remarkable career spanning six decades in the theater, Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) composed 28 operas, at least half of which are at the core of today's repertoire. Francesco Maria Piave (1810-1876) was Verdi's librettist during his productive middle period, who also worked with him on Ernani, Macbeth, Rigoletto, and La Forza del Destino, among others. Alexandre Dumas fils (1824-1895) was the son of the author of The Three Musketeers. The play La Dame aux Camélias is based on his own novel of the same name.
With La Traviata, Verdi and Piave fashioned an opera from a play set in contemporary times-an exception in the composer's long career. Dumas's La Dame aux Camélias was a meditation on the author's youthful affair with the celebrated prostitute Marie Duplessis, known as a sophisticated and well-read woman whose charms and tact far surpassed her station. The play is still staged today in its original form and exists in several film incarnations, most notably Greta Garbo's Camille (1936).