La traviata was Giuseppe Verdi’s eighteenth opera and shows him at the height of his middle-period powers. Adapted from La Dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils, it portrays the love between the courtesan Violetta Valéry and the young Alfredo Germont in fashionable Parisian society, with its inevitable tragic outcome. It had its premiere at La Fenice in Venice in 1853 and has gone on to become one of the most performed and greatly loved of all operas.
There are articles in the guide about Verdi’s preparations for the first performances, a musical commentary, an overview of the opera’s social background and an examination of how the libretto was adapted from Dumas’s play. Also included are a survey of important performances and performers, sixteen pages of illustrations, a musical thematic guide, the full libretto and English translation, a discography, bibliography and DVD and website guides.
An Introduction to La traviata, Nicholas John
La traviata: From Real Life to Opera, Denis Arnold
Verdi and La traviata: Two Routes to Realism, Roger Parker
Conspicuous Consumption: Violetta as Symptom and Subversive, Anna Picard
La traviata: A Selected Performance History, Hugo Shirley
La traviata: Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave after the play La Dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils
La traviata: English translation by Andrew Huth
For anyone with a keen interest in opera, whatever their level of knowledge, this series remains a benchmark of quality and clarity. The content is serious, reliable and trustworthy, handsomely put together, full of variety and scholarship but always making the practical experience of going to the opera a priority. I return to these volumes again and again and find the updated and new issues absolutely invaluable.
These guides, so beautiful to have and to behold, mark a huge advance on their predecessors. I find them essential supplements, not only to ENO and Royal Opera programmes, but to recordings issued on CD which often come without scholarly documentation and a libretto. The performance histories … are especially valuable, and not easily accessible elsewhere.
This uniformly excellent series is indispensable for the serious opera lover, all the more so now that almost all the CD companies have abandoned issuing a libretto with their opera releases, and have such scant background information. The English translations are on facing pages with the original texts, and in all respects the books are helpful and compact, and interestingly illustrated.
Beautifully produced and designed … they are terrific value.
The Daily Telegraph
For everything you need to know, concisely packaged.
I am delighted to see the return of the ENO Opera Guides, bigger and even more authoritative than before. There are authoritative new articles as well as several of the irreplaceable originals, the presentation is very handsome and a decided gain is the brilliantly chosen selection of production images, in colour as well as black and white. The Guides are an invaluable reference for opera lovers at any level.
Neat little volumes they are, handy for carrying around, clearly printed and well set-out, complete with libretto and translation, discography and a generous selection of illustrations.
This sturdy paperback is another recent instalment in the increasingly indispensable series of Overture Opera Guides
BBC Music Magazine
Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) is one of Italy’s most celebrated opera composers. His best-known operas include Rigoletto, Il trovatore, La traviata and Aida.