Study Guide and Pre-‐ and Post-‐Performance Lesson Plans For Reading & Writing Common Core Standards
Grades 9 - 12
Esther Nelson General & Artistic Director David Angus Music Director John Conklin Artistic Advisor
La Traviata Study Guide and Pre- and Post-Performance Lesson Plans
Table of Contents
Welcome from Manager of Education Programs………………………………………………………... 3 History of Opera: An Overview………………………………………………………………………………4 Science of Sound from BLO and Museum of Science, Boston………………………………………. 8 La Traviata Character Comparison………………………………………………………………………. 10 La Traviata Synopsis……………………………………………………………………………………….. 11 La Traviata Cast of Characters……………………………………………………………………………. 12 Verdi’s Personal Relationships…………………………………………………………………………… 13 th
Female Singers of the 19 Century………………………………………………………………………. 15 Adapting the Story………………………………………………………………………………………….. 17 Recommended Listening…………………………………………………………………………………... 20 Pre-Performance Lesson Plan, Grades 9 – 10…………………………………………………………. 22 Pre-Performance Lesson Plan, Grades 11 – 12………………………………………………………… 24 Post-Performance Lesson Plan, Grades 9 – 10………………………………………………………… 26 Post-Performance Lesson Plan, Grades 11 – 12………………………………………………………. 28 Supplemental Materials and Resources………………………………………………………………… 30
Esther Nelson General & Artistic Director David Angus Music Director John Conklin Artistic Advisor
September 30, 2014
Boston Lyric Opera is pleased to invite high school students to Final Dress Rehearsals at the Shubert Theatre throughout our Season. We look forward to seeing you and your students at the theatre for this new production of Verdi’s La Traviata, set in a rich and decadent Paris and featuring one of opera’s most famous leading ladies. The experience of seeing and hearing live, professional opera is second to none. However, we encourage you to explore the world of the opera in your classroom as well. We are proud to offer a study guide to support your discussions and preparations for La Traviata that includes special insights into the production, the opera’s history, and ready-to-use pre- and postperformance lesson plans for grades 9 – 12. Boston Lyric Opera’s mission is to build curiosity, enthusiasm, and support for opera. This new study guide is one way in which we hope to reach this goal, and support the incredible work of educators like you, who bring this beautiful art form into your students’ lives. As we continue to develop these study guides this Season, we want your feedback. Please tell us about how you use this guide and how it can best serve your needs by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re interested in other opera education opportunities with Boston Lyric Opera, please visit blo.org/learn to discover more about our programs. • • •
Final Dress Rehearsals in October, March, and April Artist classroom visits in January and February Music! Words! Opera!
We look forward to seeing you at the theatre! Sincerely, Elizabeth Mullins Manager of Education Programs
Character Comparison Manon Lescaut Manon Lescaut (novel, 1731) by Abbé Prévost. This story follows two young lovers, Des Grieux and Manon. Des Grieux hails from a noble, wealthy family, and his father disapproves of his relationship with Manon. The two lovers flee to Paris together. Des Grieux lives in the city with Manon, but his dwindling funds cannot support Manon’s appetite for luxury. On multiple occasions, Des Grieux implores his friends (who disapprove of Manon) for money. After a series of accidents (theft and a fire in their apartment), Des Grieux has lost his wealth and, without hesitation, Manon abandons him in his hour of need, for a wealthier man. Des Grieux’s passion wins Manon back, and the two move to New Orleans, Louisiana. While there, they ask the Governor to marry them. The Governor wants to wed Manon himself, and challenges Des Grieux to a duel with his nephew. Des Grieux knocks the nephew unconscious, so he and
Manon flee to the wilderness to escape. Manon dies of exposure, and Des Grieux returns to France to become a cleric. Marguerite Gautier La Dame aux Camélias (novel and play, 1852) by Alexandre Dumas, fils. Marguerite is an established courtesan who falls in love with the nobleman Armand. He convinces her to move, abandoning her lifestyle, and to be faithful to him. Armand’s finances and relationships suffer because of his known cohabitation with Marguerite. He feels guilt that he cannot provide her the life he feels she deserves. Armand’s father convinces Marguerite to leave Armand for the sake of their family’s honor. Marguerite and Armand are reunited, but she abandons him once more before he wakes the next morning out of guilt for betraying her promise to his father.
libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. Like Marguerite, Violetta is a known courtesan and is moved by the sincerity and devotion of Alfredo, one of her suitors. She moves to the countryside with him. Alfredo is blissfully content with Violetta. He soon learns that she has sold all her possessions to support their life and is filled with shame. He leaves for Paris to make amends. Knowing she has dissolved her wealth for Alfredo, Alfredo’s father insists that Violetta leave Alfredo for the good of their family. Violetta eventually concedes. Violetta claims to love her prior patron in order to fulfill her promise to Alfredo’s father. She is steadfast in her promise and despite her anguish, neither betrays her secret nor gives into Alfredo’s pleas.
Violetta Valéry La Traviata (opera, 1853) composed by Giuseppe Verdi,
Synopsis Act I: Violetta Valéry, a Parisian courtesan, is hosting a grand party in Paris. She is introduced to Alfredo Germont, a suitor who has been inquiring worriedly about her failing health for several months. Violetta begins to feel faint and is left alone by her guests. Alfredo remains with her and tries to convince her to leave her reckless lifestyle. Violetta makes light of his devotion and tells him that she is not the woman for him. Alfredo persists and eventually Violetta gives him a flower, telling him to come back when the flower has withered. The party ends and when all the guests have left, Violetta is torn between her carefree life of pleasure and her newly-awakened feelings of love for Alfredo. Act II: Alfredo and Violetta enjoy a tranquil life in the countryside. Alfredo expresses his contentment, but his illusions of happiness are soon dispersed when Annina, Violetta’s maid, informs him that Violetta has been driven into debt accommodating their luxurious lifestyle in the country. Alfredo is ashamed and goes to Paris to rectify their financial situation. While Alfredo is away, his father, Giorgio Germont, arrives at their country home and begs Violetta to leave his son. Alfredo’s cohabitation with a known courtesan has brought shame on the family and could dissolve the engagement of Germont’s daughter. Violetta feels pity for the daughter, but has resolved that her love for Alfredo is too strong. Germont persists and Violetta reluctantly agrees under the condition that one day he tell his son of the sacrifice she has made. Violetta writes Alfredo a farewell note and leaves immediately for Paris. Alfredo returns and is distraught by Violetta’s letter. His father attempts to comfort him by reminding him of his loving family awaiting his return, but Alfredo is inconsolable and rushes to Paris after Violetta in a jealous rage. Violetta attends her friend Flora’s party on the arm of Baron Douphol, one of her old suitors. The Baron is annoyed to see Alfredo at the party and challenges him to a game of cards. Alfredo is on a winning streak, but the game is interrupted as the guests are called to dinner. Violetta stays behind and Alfredo aggressively confronts her. In order to keep from revealing her secret, Violetta admits that she loves Baron Douphol. Alfredo calls in all the guests and humiliates Violetta, throwing his winnings at her and saying he has paid her. The guests are shocked by his distasteful behavior and Germont, who has also witnessed his son’s outburst, is ashamed that his son could treat a woman so cruelly. The Baron challenges Alfredo to a duel. Act III: Violetta lies in bed close to death. She and her maid Annina are on the brink of poverty, but Violetta is unconcerned, as she knows her death is imminent. Violetta reads a letter she has received from Germont. He has told Alfredo of her sacrifice and they plan to come to her as soon as possible. Violetta fears she will die before they arrive. Just as she begins to despair, Alfredo arrives and the two are joyously reunited. The two fantasize about leaving Paris again and living happily in the countryside, but Violetta’s debilitated state brings them back to reality. They send for Doctor Grenville. Germont arrives and realizes the seriousness of Violetta’s illness. He is filled with guilt and shame. For a brief moment, Violetta’s ailments fade and she is overcome with joy before suddenly falling dead. Alfredo and Germont mourn her death.
Cast of Characters Violetta Valéry: A vivacious Parisian courtesan at the height of her popularity. Violetta is afflicted with tuberculosis. Alfredo Germont: A young man who has fallen in love with Violetta and convinces her to abandon her lifestyle as a courtesan and lead a respectable life with him. Giorgio Germont: Alfredo’s father, who disapproves of Alfredo’s relationship with a known courtesan. Flora Bervoix: Violetta’s friend and hostess of many extravagant parties. Baron Douphol: One of Violetta’s suitors. Annina: Violetta’s maid. Doctor Grenville: Violetta’s doctor. Giuseppe: Violetta's servant.
Costume Design by Jacob A. Climer.
Verdi’s Personal Relationships Giuseppe Verdi’s personal life, while quite turbulent, had a significant influence on his career as a composer. Margherita Barezzi, the daughter of one of Verdi’s earliest patrons, became Verdi’s first wife in 1836. The couple had two children, both of whom died during infancy. His wife died shortly after the two children in 1840. The consecutive tragedies, as well as the failure of Verdi’s second opera, the comedy Un Giorno di Regno, and Verdi’s ensuing poverty, caused him to turn away from a career in composition. Luckily, Verdi was persuaded by the impresario of La Scala (where his first two operas premiered) to return to opera, but did not write another comedy until he was 80. Several years after his return to composition, Verdi became involved with bel canto star, Giuseppina Strepponi. Strepponi starred in many of Verdi’s early works, including his first two operas, Oberto and Un Giorno di Regno and the two became close friends. Despite her success on the stage, Strepponi had earned a scandalous reputation among 19th-century high society due to various romantic affairs and the three illegitimate children she bore. Verdi’s friends and family adamantly discouraged his romance with Strepponi and the couple’s eventual cohabitation was met with strong disapproval. The couple, and Strepponi in particular, faced tremendous social adversity and found solace in the isolation of the countryside in 1851; however, the solitude began to take its toll on Strepponi. As Verdi’s compositional career flourished with Nabucco in 1842, Strepponi’s career was rapidly declining due to poor vocal health, and was completely over by 1851. Verdi and Strepponi proved a devoted and long-lasting couple. After more than ten years of cohabitation, the couple married in 1859 and remained together until her death in 1897. While there is no doubt that Verdi was directly inspired by Alexandre Dumas’ play La Dame aux Camélias, many speculate that Verdi’s adaption of the play’s title character, Marguerite Gautier, for La Traviata is an idealized reflection of Giuseppina Strepponi. The couple saw Dumas’ play in Paris in 1852 and Verdi was immediately taken with it. The parallels between Strepponi’s checkered past and rejection by “respectable” society and the drama that ensues onstage, both in Dumas’ play and Verdi’s adaption, are certainly visible; what remains unknown is whether this was a conscious tribute to Strepponi on Verdi’s part or simply an operatic opportunity that crossed Verdi’s path at a moment of uncannily similar circumstances in his own life. Dumas’ play has much in common with Prévost’s famous novel, Manon Lescaut (1731), but differs significantly in its treatment of the female protagonist. While both depict the unsavory world of the demi-monde, Dumas carefully depicts a fallen woman worthy of both sympathy and forgiveness, while Prévost’s Manon cannot resist wealth and luxury. As a connoisseur of literature, it seems likely that what Verdi found novelty in was the idea of a courtesan capable of redemption.
References Fisher, Burton D., ed. Verdi's La Traviata. Coral Gables, FL: Opera Journeys Pub., 2005. Print. Plotkin, Fred. "Giuseppe Verdi, Lost and Found." WQXR - New York's Classical Music Radio Station. N.p., 9 Oct. 2012. Web. 23 Apr. 2014. <http://www.wqxr.org/#!/story/242470-giuseppeverdi-lost-and-found/>. Smith, Joan. "Book Review: Verdi's Violetta Gets the Callas Treatment." The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 11 Dec. 1994. Web. 23 Apr. 2014. <http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/book-review-verdis-violetta-gets-the-callastreatment-1387157.html>. "Verdi and La Traviata." San Diego Opera. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2014. <http://www.sdopera.com/Content/Operapaedia/Operas/Latraviata/Composer.htm>.
The Evolution of Female Roles in Opera
During the 17th and 18th centuries, many female singers were kept by noblemen, royalty, and men of wealth as courtesans. Their vocal abilities were secondary to their good looks and youthfulness. Many young women who could not afford a dowry chose to be bought as courtesan-singers over life in a convent, one of the few options for an unmarried woman of the time. With the financial support of their patron, female singers did not need exceptional talent to succeed and careers in singing became thin, socially acknowledged façades for “up-scale” prostitution.
Leading operatic roles of the 17th and 18th centuries were not necessarily written for sopranos, but rather the idolized castrati. Castrati were male singers who were castrated before their voices matured, allowing them to sing in the soprano range, but with a very distinctive timbre. However, as the late 17th century saw the emergence of truly gifted sopranos and the practice of castration dwindled through the 18th century, a woman singing onstage became a more socially acceptable profession. The fall of the castrati paved the way for the rise of the prima donna, but in the meantime, female singers were slowly changing their public image. Many talented singers were able to make their own way without a patron or good looks to support them. These singers relied on vocal ability and, if that failed them, a humble attitude towards the press and public, as they had no financial support to fall back on. Women increasingly found a public interested in an artist rather than a sexual object; female singers were embraced by audiences and critics regardless of their physical appearance if they proved vocally capable and talented.
Though many mediocre singers continued to succeed off of the support of their patrons, the popularization of bel canto opera provided a vehicle for some of opera’s most talented sopranos to thrive. Sopranos experienced explosive popularity and success as prima donnas, but the rigorous schedules and constant travel made it hard for both married and unmarried singers to maintain relationships. Sopranos were respected as artists, but not necessarily as women. Their personal lives were often riddled with fleeting affairs with impresarios, composers, and other singers. As independent breadwinners, female singers did not conform to the historical mold of a docile and modest wife. The fiery prima donna personality, while entertaining to the public, was not the kind of woman families would have welcomed.
The line between courtesans and female entertainers became much clearer as women gained independence, but the social stigma for female singers would remain until societyâ€™s perception of womenâ€™s roles and equality changed. Now, women still struggle against these historical paradigms, but are recognized and celebrated for their artistic and professional contributions to the art form and work in all facets of the opera and theatre industry. References http://www.elta-project.org/theme-women.html Haill, Catherine. "East London Theatre Archive." East London Theatre Archive. University of East London, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014. <http://www.elta-project.org/theme-women.html>. Rosselli, John. Singers of Italian Opera: The History of a Profession. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992. Print. White, Kimberly. "Female Singers and the maladie Morale in Parisian Lyric Theaters, 18301850." Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture 16.1 (2012): 57-85. Print. http://www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-310651182/female-singers-and-the-maladie-moralein-parisian
Adapting the Story Work:
Manon Lescaut (novel,1731) by Abbé Prévost
La Dame aux Camélias (novel, 1848; play, 1852) by Alexandre Dumas, fils
The Chevalier Des Grieux, a young nobleman, meets Manon and is instantly dazzled by her beauty and youth. Des Grieux begs Manon to flee with him to Paris. Manon seizes the opportunity and elopes with Des Grieux.
Des Grieux’s father takes his son by force from his apartment in Paris and keeps him locked up for six months until his passion for Manon has subsided. Des Grieux’s father has a calming effect on his son and after this intervention Des Grieux is able to return to school at a seminary without thinking of Manon.
Manon aids Des Grieux’s father in removing him from Paris and she takes up with a new lover. Manon returns to Des Grieux, but after a series of accidents, Des Grieux has lost his wealth and Manon abandons him without hesitation, again for a wealthier man. She justifies and makes light of her betrayal, by telling Des Grieux it is all to gather wealth for their future happiness.
Marguerite is an established courtesan who falls in love with the nobleman Armand. Sharing Marguerite with paying suitors torments Armand, but he cannot resist returning to her. They become lovers and live together in Paris. Their cohabitation upsets Marguerite’s patron and he threatens to withdraw his financial support if she continues her liaison with Armand. She chooses to leave her life as a courtesan and live with Armand in the country. Armand’s father both commands and implores Armand to leave Marguerite for the sake of the family’s honor. Armand shows sympathy to his pleas, but is aggravated by his father’s condescension and refuses. Similarly, Armand’s father is at first disdainful toward Marguerite and then imploring. He asks her to leave Armand for the sake of his daughter, whose engagement is at stake due to Armand’s relationship with Marguerite. Marguerite gives in and returns to her former life. Armand’s father and Marguerite’s encounter is not revealed until Armand reads her letters after her death. Marguerite succumbs to the pleas of Armand’s father and agrees to betray her love for the sake of his family. Marguerite and Armand are reunited, but she abandons him once more out of guilt for betraying her promise to his father.
La Traviata (opera, 1853) composed by Giuseppe Verdi, libretto by Francesco Maria Piave Violetta and Alfredo share many of the same circumstances as Marguerite and Armand. Alfredo professes his love to her at one of her soirees and convinces her that devotion to one man is what her life lacks. Though she resists at first, she chooses to leave Paris and live life in the country devoted only to Alfredo.
Germont (Alfredo’s father) bypasses his complacent son and confronts Violetta directly. He thinks at first that Violetta is taking advantage of his wealth, but soon learns that she has sacrificed her wealth to support their lifestyle. Germont guilts Violetta with his daughter’s endangered engagement and exploits her fragile feeling of selfworth. Violetta consents under the condition that he reveal her sacrifice to Alfredo after her death; however, Germont redeems himself. After witnessing Alfredo humiliate Violetta at a soiree, Germont chastises his son for his undignified behavior and honors his promise to Violetta before her death. Violetta betrays Alfredo’s love and returns to her former patron, but for a noble cause. Once she agrees to leave Alfredo, she does not falter in her resolve, even after her public humiliation. Violetta is, perhaps the most strong-willed of the three female protagonists.
Manon Lescaut (novel, 1731) by Abbé Prévost
La Dame aux Camélias (novel, 1848; play, 1852) by Alexandre Dumas, fils
La Traviata (opera, 1853) composed by Giuseppe Verdi, libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
Unlike Marguerite and Violetta, Manon was not afflicted by any physical disease. Her greed and insatiable appetite for wealth and pleasure are the “disease” that inevitably condemns her.
Violetta’s ill health is no secret to Alfredo, but both Alfredo and Germont seem unaware of its gravity. During Violetta and Germont’s confrontation, Germont makes light of her illness (unaware that it is consumption) and is later filled with remorse. Both Alfredo and Germont have the chance to praise Violetta’s sacrifice and comfort her before her death, giving the opera a tragic, yet satisfying conclusion.
Though Manon’s personality beguiles the reader, it is truly Des Grieux’s story. Des Grieux narrates the tale and we come to understand his philosophy and pitiful inner strife in regard to Manon and his feelings of duty.
Manon Lescaut is not an autobiographical story, but Des Grieux’s perspective, background, and, to an extent, failed romance, parallel those of Abbé Prévost. The author’s experiences inform much of the plot and philosophy of the work.
Marguerite’s poor state of health is well-known throughout Paris. Once Marguerite makes it clear that she is receiving other men again, Armand humiliates her on a jealous impulse by paying her for their time spent together. Marguerite dies of consumption alone, in pain, and loathed by the one she loves, making her, perhaps, the most tragic of the three women. Her sacrifice is respected only after her death. Armand reads her diaries after her death and is inconsolable in his grief and shame. Marguerite and Armand’s story is made more intriguing by the conflict of Marguerite’s scandalous past, but the story unfolds primarily from Armand’s point of view. This, on the one hand, allowed both Prévost and Dumas to write the story in the sophisticated style of a well-educated man, but on the other, put the female characters on a less personal level. By putting Marguerite’s final months in the form of a diary, Dumas makes the revelation of Marguerite’s sacrifice much more poignant. Dumas’ Marguerite was based on a real and very well known Parisian courtesan, Marie Duplessis, but her selfless virtue that differentiates her so starkly from Manon is completely fictional. It’s true that Dumas was Marie’s lover for a time, but it is uncertain whether the character of Armand is based on his affair or that of the impassioned Comte Edouard de Perregaux who later married her.
Verdi’s opera has no narrator and is told directly through the characters’ words and actions. Verdi very obviously makes it Violetta’s tragedy by following her throughout the drama (she is present in almost every scene) and giving her the opera’s most extensive and expressive arias and duets.
As an adaption of Dumas’ La Dame aux Camélias, La Traviata also pays tribute to Marie Duplessis, though Verdi never actually met her. The circumstances of Verdi’s relationship to soprano Giuseppina Strepponi actually paralleled the premise and values of La Traviata with much more accuracy than Duplessis’ history.
Adapting the Story, continued Beginning with Prévost’s Manon Lescaut, each of these stories was a catalyst for the next. Though Dumas’ La Dame aux Camélias and Prévost’s Manon Lescaut share many circumstantial similarities, many of the differences with La Dame aux Camélias are a direct reaction to Manon Lescaut, which is cited in the former. Not only does the author have Prévost’s ill-fated love story in mind, but his characters read, reference, and reflect on Manon Lescaut within their own story. La Traviata follows Dumas’ plot line fairly closely, but Verdi and Piave’s treatment of the characters and the nature of the storytelling gives the drama new emphasis. Each of the stories is informed in part by the author’s own romantic experiences, giving each work a unique color. The fiendishly beguiling Manon has also found voice on the opera stage, most notably in Giacomo Puccini’s Manon Lescaut and Jules Massenet’s Manon. Much like the relationship between La Dame aux Camélias and La Traviata, the story is there, but each interpreter (writer or composer) projects new sympathies and philosophies onto these vexing characters. References Dumas, Alexandre, fils. Camille (La Dame Aux Camélias). Project Gutenberg. Gutenberg Press, 26 Sept. 2008. Web. 29 Apr. 2014. <http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1608/1608-h/1608-h.htm>. Kimbell, David R. B. "Verdi and 'realism' - La Traviata." Verdi in the Age of Italian Romanticism. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1981. 642-71. Print. Prévost, Abbé. Manon Lescaut. Trans. Leonard Tancock. 2nd ed. New York: Penguin, 1991. Print. Weber, Caroline. "‘My Favors Cost a Great Deal.’ ‘The Girl Who Loved Camellias.’." The New York Times. The New York Times, 21 July 2013. Web. 30 Apr. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/21/books/review/the-girl-who-loved-camellias-by-juliekavanagh.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0>.
Recommended Listening Musical Devices and How to Listen: •
Tempo and rhythm: is the music fast, slow, steady? Are the rhythms stately, playful, grave?
Key: is it in major or minor? (Does it sound bright and happy or sad?)
Contour of a line: does the voice move smoothly or does it make frequent or erratic jumps?
Do the vocal lines move noticeably downward or upward?
Does the type of voice singing (baritone, soprano, etc.) have an effect on the listener?
Dynamics/volume: is the music loud or soft? Are there sudden changes in volume (either in the voice or orchestra)?
Predictability: do the melodies end as you would expect or do they surprise you?
Second Listening and Follow-Up Questions: •
What is the orchestra doing in contrast to the voice? How do they interact?
What sorts of images or atmospheres come to mind when listening to the music? Does it remind you of something?
Do particularly emphatic notes (low, high, held) correspond to dramatic moments in the text?
Does this music sound serious or playful?
“A Fors’é Lui…Sempre Libera” (cavatina and cabaletta): Violetta, soprano •
The accompaniment to the opening cabaletta is characterized by a heavy, unhurried sound.
Violetta’s soprano voice contrasts the low strings and woodwinds and her long legato lines are pensive and filled with yearning.
In “A Fors’é Lui” Violetta directly recalls both the text and melody of Alfredo’s imploring “A quell'amor ch'e' palpito” from their Act I duet.
Violetta dismisses these pensive feelings of love in a contrastingly bombastic and upbeat cabaletta in A-flat major.
Alfredo’s offstage interjection (again, of “A quell'amor ch'e' palpito”) makes the trills and rapid coloratura that represent Violetta’s frivolous side, superficial. The syncopation and vocal excess seem to become an attempt to drown Alfredo out.
“De’Miei Bollenti Spiriti:” Alfredo, tenor •
E-flat major key signature and offbeat accompaniment give the aria a lively and upbeat feel.
Musical ideas are developed throughout the aria. The lack of repetition makes the aria unpredictable and spontaneous.
The variety of vocal phrases provides opportunity for nuanced articulation and dynamic contrasts, adding to the spontaneity and genuineness of the aria.
“Di Provenza…No, Non Udrai” (aria and cabaletta): Germont, baritone •
The leisurely string and flute introduction and accompaniment in D-flat major set the peaceful rustic atmosphere, which is later reinforced by the text.
The steady vocal melody is simple and mostly stepwise, the note values are consistent, and the structure is strophic. These factors have a calming and comforting effect to the listener in the midst of Alfredo’s despair.
When Alfredo refuses to be consoled, Germont’s agitation shows in the brisk cabaletta (“No, Non Udrai”). The tempo picks up and the phrases are no longer consistent and clear.
Much of the melody remains stepwise, but does not move smoothly up or down. Instead the phrases end on vacillating 16th notes that show Germont’s waning patience.
The cabaletta has lost the poetic language and unhurriedness of “Di, Provenza.” The phrases often begin on off-beats, and dotted rhythms that propel the music forward and add to the sense of urgency in Germont’s tone.
Lesson Topic: Understanding Art Today Grade Levels 9-10 Pre-Performance Lesson Plans Length of Lesson: Variable, 2-4 Class Periods Stage 1 – Desired Results Content Standard(s): Reading Standard MA.8.A: Analyze a work of fiction, poetry, or drama using a variety of critical lenses (e.g., formal, psychological, historical, sociological, feminist). Speaking and Listening Standard 1: Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively. c. Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others. Understanding(s) / Goals: Students will understand: • How to interpret a story’s core ideas in a variety of contexts. • How to discuss, debate, and compromise as a group. • How to read with dramatic inflection.
Essential Question(s): • Is the message of La Traviata still relevant to today’s audiences? • Can we still relate to Violetta and Germont’s dilemmas? • How have tolerance and family dynamics changed since the 19th century? • Under what contemporary circumstances could this story be believably set?
Student Objectives (Outcomes): Students will be able to: • Compare the social attitudes between two different time periods. • Apply a story to a variety of social settings. • Assess the logic of a certain mindset within a given time period and social atmosphere. Stage 2 – Assessment Evidence Performance Task(s): Other Evidence: • Discuss La Traviata and the social • Gauge students’ familiarity with a ideals of the 19th century. variety of cultural and religious • Discuss the roles of women in the 19th ideals. century and the weight placed on • Comprehension of dramatic family honor. narrative. • Discuss these same ideas in the context of today’s world. • Have students divide into small groups and set La Traviata in a believable modern context. • Students will elaborate on these ideas and write a 5-minute dramatic scene. • Students will read their scenes for the class.
Stage 3 – Learning Plan Learning Activities: Total Time: 2-3 class periods Introductory Activity: Discussion and contextualizing: (1-2 class periods) • Discuss the plot, characters, and social ideals of La Traviata. (Refer to page number) • After identifying the major social factors at work in the opera, broaden the lens and discuss the large-scale social attitudes of the 19th century to contextualize the story. Explore the roles of women, the emphasis on social class, and family values of the time. (Refer to page number) • As a class, discuss how these social factors have either changed or stayed the same. Developmental Activity: Collaborating and re-imagining: (30 minutes) • Students should divide into small groups and contrast these social norms further. What kinds of social issues are controversial today? Based on their experiences and knowledge, do they think the conflicts in La Traviata are still applicable today? • Together students should explore how this opera could be set in a contemporary setting and in what social, cultural, or religious settings this opera could most believably be staged. Ask questions such as: In what social setting today could a relationship not endorsed by the family end a sibling’s engagement or marriage? In what contemporary context is family name and honor weighted more than the actions of each individual? Closing Activity: Sharing Activity: (1 class period) • Students should share their scenario/setting with the class. Each group will discuss why they chose their particular social, religious, or political context to set the opera in and what aspects of this interpretation they found to be most natural and/or challenging. • In groups of 2 or 3, students should write a 5-minute dramatic scene placing a similar conflict into the contemporary setting their group chose. Students will do a dramatic reading of their scenes for the class.
Lesson Topic: Exploring Social Attitudes of the 19th Century Grade Level 11-12 Pre-Performance Lesson Plans Length of Lesson: 1-2 Class Periods Stage 1 – Desired Results Content Standard(s): Reading Standard MA.8.A: Analyze a work of fiction, poetry, or drama using a variety of critical lenses (e.g., formal, psychological, historical, sociological, feminist). Speaking and Listening Standard 1: Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively. b. Work with peers to promote civil, democratic discussions and decision-making, set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as needed. c. Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives. d. Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives; synthesize comments, claims, and evidence made on all sides of an issue; resolve contradictions when possible; and determine what additional information or research is required to deepen the investigation or complete the task. Writing Standard 1: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. a. Introduce precise, knowledgeable claim(s), establish the significance of the claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that logically sequences claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence. b. Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the most relevant evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level, concerns, values, and possible biases. Understanding(s) / Goals: Students will understand: • How to evaluate a work based on the social beliefs of the time. • How to suspend contemporary ideals in order to understand the mindset of a past generation. • How to write convincingly and support their point of view.
Essential Question(s): • What is a demi-monde? • What were the class and social expectations of men and women in the 19th century? • How were honor and dishonor perceived? • Was trying to rise above your allotted social class immoral?
Student Objectives (Outcomes): Students will be able to: • Compare the social attitudes between two different time periods. • Apply a story to a variety of social settings. • Assess the credibility of a certain mindset within a given time period and social sphere. • Express their opinions clearly and logically in writing. 24
Stage 2 – Assessment Evidence Performance Task(s): Other Evidence: • Discuss La Traviata and the social • Gauge students’ familiarity with 19th th ideals of the 19 century. century history • Discuss the roles of women in the 19th century and the weight placed on family honor. • Considering the time period, discuss whether or not Violetta’s decision to redeem herself is praiseworthy or selfish and whether Germont’s demands were reasonable or intolerant. • Have students write an essay on who they think is responsible for Violetta’s suffering. Stage 3 – Learning Plan Learning Activities: Total Time: 1-2 class periods Introductory Activity: Discussion and contextualizing: (1 class period) • Discuss the plot, characters, and social ideals of La Traviata (see La Traviata synopsis). • After identifying the major social factors at work in the opera, broaden the scope by discussing the large-scale social attitudes of the 19th century. Explore the demimonde, roles of women, the emphasis on social class, and family dynamic of the time. Center the discussion around how each character plays a role in Violetta’s suffering. Developmental Activity: In-depth discussion: (30 minutes) • Break students into small groups and consider the dramatic flaws of each character: Was Violetta’s “immoral” life beyond redemption? Was Alfredo selfish to pursue Violetta, knowing his family would never allow it? Was Germont overly callous and intolerant towards Violetta or was he justified in his distrust? Were they all at fault or was nobody at fault? Were they all victims of the society they lived in? Closing Activity: Writing Assignment: (outside of class) • Ask students to write an essay detailing their thoughts on the discussion. Students should answer the prompt: Considering the social norms and expectations of the 19th century, who was in the wrong in La Traviata? Why?
Lesson Topic: Creative Writing Grade Level 9-10 Post-Performance Lesson Plans Length of Lesson: 1 Class Period Stage 1 – Desired Results Content Standard(s): Reading Standard MA.8.A: Analyze a work of fiction, poetry, or drama using a variety of critical lenses (e.g., formal, psychological, historical, sociological, feminist). Writing Standard 3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences. a. Engage and orient the reader by setting out a problem, situation, or observation, establishing one or multiple point(s) of view, and introducing a narrator and/or characters; create a smooth progression of experiences or events. b. Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters. c. Use a variety of techniques to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent whole. d. Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters. Writing Standard 4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. Understanding(s) / Goals: Essential Question(s): Students will understand: • What is Violetta’s objective in writing to • How to write from a character’s Alfredo? perspective. • How will she convince him that she no • How to use context to write a longer loves him? logical and in-character narrative. • How to apply literary concepts outside of their original context. Student Objectives (Outcomes): Students will be able to: • Write in the first-person voice of a fictional character. • Understand the character’s thought process and motives. • Write engagingly. Stage 2 – Assessment Evidence Performance Task(s): Other Evidence: • Attend Boston Lyric Opera’s dress • Evaluate students’ experience with rehearsal performance of La creative narrative writing. Traviata. • Ensure that students understand the • Discuss the relationships between character’s purpose and motives. Violetta, Alfredo, and Germont. • Complete Violetta’s Act II letter to Alfredo. • Write a letter to a loved one about a similar conflict (either real or invented).
Stage 3 – Learning Plan Learning Activities: Total Time: Variable Supplemental Materials: • See text and listening supplements • La Traviata Act I, Scene III • La Traviata Act II, Scene II Introductory Activity: (Outside of class or 2 class periods) • Attend Boston Lyric Opera’s final dress rehearsal of La Traviata or watch La Traviata in class. Developmental Activity: Discussion and Writing Activities: (1 class period) • Discuss the opera and the relationships between Violetta, Alfredo, and Germont. -Does Germont believe that Violetta loves his son? -Does Alfredo value Violetta more than his family? -Why does Violetta have to lie to Alfredo in her letter? -Does Germont sympathize with Violetta or is he manipulating her for the well-being of his own family? • Make sure students understand Violetta’s motives for writing the letter and her attitude towards the decision. • Have students complete the letter Violetta sends to Alfredo in Act II. Violetta has sworn to Germont that she will leave his son. Her letter begins “Alfredo, by the time you read this letter…” In one page, have students complete this letter, providing plausible reasons for Violetta’s departure (boredom in the country, fear of poverty, she misses her friends/social life, etc.). Closing Activity: Writing activity: (Outside of class) • Have students apply Violetta’s situation to their own lives. Students should consider the following questions: Was there ever a time when you had to keep a secret from a loved one to keep them from making a bad decision or getting hurt? If not, imagine a similar situation. What would you say to them? • Students should write an introduction explaining their scenario, followed by a one-page letter to a friend, family member, etc. similar to Violetta’s letter.
Lesson Topic: Comparing Adaptations Grade Level 11-12 Post-Performance Lesson Plans Length of Lesson: 1-2 Class Periods Stage 1 – Desired Results Content Standard(s): Reading Standard 1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain. Reading Standard 6: Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness, or beauty of the text. Writing Standard 1: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. a. Introduce precise, knowledgeable claim(s), establish the significance of the claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that logically sequences claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence. b. Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the most relevant evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level, concerns, values, and possible biases. Understanding(s) / Goals Essential Question(s): Students will understand: • How does a composer create drama • How to compare similar works of through music? art. • Are words and music equally expressive? • How to analyze works for more • What makes one text more dramatic than than just textual content. a similar text? • How to evaluate music for dramatic • Does music obscure clarity? content. Student Objectives (Outcomes): Students will be able to: • Compare two similar texts of different mediums. • Understand the dramatic musical language used by a composer. • Support their opinion with logical arguments and examples. • Express their opinions articulately. Stage 2 – Assessment Evidence Performance Task(s): Other Evidence: • Read translated excerpts from La • Gauge students’ familiarity with opera. Dame aux Camélias. • Evaluate students’ experience comparing • Watch corresponding excerpts from similar works from different mediums. La Traviata • Compare the sets of scenes. • Have students choose one pair of scenes for a comparative essay.
Stage 3 – Learning Plan Learning Activities: Total Time: 2-3 class periods Supplemental Materials: • See text and listening supplements • La Traviata Act I, Scene III • La Traviata Act II, Scene II Introductory Activity: Discussion and contextualizing: (30 minutes) • Discuss the overall plot of La Dame aux Camélias and La Traviata to contextualize the excerpts. (See comparison table on pages 17-18) • Teach students how to actively listen to opera excerpts. (See “Recommended Listening” on pages 20-21). Developmental Activity: Collaborating and re-imagining: (30 minutes) All translated excerpts and text are included in study guide materials. (Video clips of La Traviata scenes can be found through the hyperlinks above under “Supplemental Materials.”) • Ask students to read the Chapter 10 excerpt from La Dame aux Camélias. • Afterwards, watch the Act I, Scene III excerpt from La Traviata. Have students follow the text translations and evaluate how the music evokes the text. • Discuss the differences between the two excerpts. Do the characters have the same attitudes, experiences, reactions, etc.? Is Verdi able to create an equally thorough scene, despite the fact that he uses half the amount of text? What did students find particularly effective or engaging in each scene? • Read the second excerpt from Chapter 24 of La Dame aux Camélias. • Watch Act II, Scene II of La Traviata. • These two excerpts show much more variability on the authors’ parts, but contain the same ideas. Which excerpt is more dramatic? Why? Do these two excerpts achieve two different ends? What feeling does each excerpt leave you with? Closing Activity: Sharing Activity: (Outside of class) • Students should reflect on these scenes and choose one pair of excerpts to write an essay on. The student should choose an aspect of one excerpt that they find particularly striking and contrast it with the other author/composer’s take. Have students acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of both excerpts and use examples from the excerpts to support their arguments. *For those interested in more adaptations of Dumas’ La Dame aux Camélias, explore the following notable works: • La Dame aux Camélias, ballet. Music by Frédéric Chopin • Moulin Rouge!, film. • Camille, play adaption by Pam Gems.
Listening Supplement: Here are some tips on what to listen for musically and dramatically in the two excerpts from La Traviata:
General guiding questions: -What instruments are playing? How fast is the music? Are there sudden changes in speed or volume? Is the rhythm steady or off-beat? What effect do these factors have on the listener?
Dramatic inflections through music: Act I, Scene III: The opening is mostly sung dialogue, but during the formal duet, listen for Alfredo’s smooth vocal lines. His vocal lines follow a steady rhythm and the phrases build to climactic, passionate moments. Violetta’s interjections are fast and ornate. The playful coloratura runs that she sings are very showy and superficial (as Violetta is during the first act) and sound almost like laughter. Her tone is mocking, but the rhythmic instability of her lines make her sound uncertain of her own resolve. Act II, Scene II: This scene differs from Dumas’ mostly in that it is a public scene. Verdi makes the entire party witness Alfredo’s rash action. Unlike the legato lines from Act I, in this scene many of Alfredo’s phrases remain on one pitch and then jump up sharply at the end. This and the syllabic setting of the text give his singing a spoken quality. The chorus and orchestra respond to Alfredo’s insult with volume and a simple homophonic texture (all melodies and harmonies move to the same rhythm). This massive crescendo is contrasted by a very sudden silence for Germont’s dramatic entrance. The fact that Germont is sung by a baritone makes his text all the more condescending. Soon after, Violetta’s soft, legato phrases cut through the texture, which up to this point have been very low and dark. The contrast in register and style give her lines a pure sound. Verdi further contrasts this very raw opening section with a musically complex ensemble after Germont’s entrance. Violetta, Germont, Alfredo, the Baron, and the chorus all sing different lines that fall in and out of rhythmic sync. The ensemble contains many shifts in dynamics and tempo, which reflect the fluctuating emotions of the various characters. The contrast from one emotion (rage) to many uncertain emotions (loyalty, guilt, shame, humiliation) is audible in Verdi’s stylistic shifts through this scene.
Text Supplement: La Dame aux CamĂŠlias, Chapter 10 Excerpt (This scene takes place at Margueriteâ€™s apartment. Marguerite and Armand are alone together and he speaks openly with her for the first time about his feelings.) The room to which she had fled was lit only by a single candle. She lay back on a great sofa, her dress undone, holding one hand on her heart, and letting the other hang by her side. On the table was a basin half full of water, and the water was stained with streaks of blood. Very pale, her mouth half open, Marguerite tried to recover breath. Now and again her bosom was raised by a long sigh, which seemed to relieve her a little, and for a few seconds she would seem to be quite comfortable. I went up to her; she made no movement, and I sat down and took the hand which was lying on the sofa. "Ah! it is you," she said, with a smile. I must have looked greatly agitated, for she added: "Are you unwell, too?" "No, but you: do you still suffer?" "Very little;" and she wiped off with her handkerchief the tears which the coughing had brought to her eyes; "I am used to it now." "You are killing yourself, madame," I said to her in a moved voice. "I wish I were a friend, a relation of yours, that I might keep you from doing yourself harm like this." "Ah! it is really not worth your while to alarm yourself," she replied in a somewhat bitter tone; "see how much notice the others take of me! They know too well that there is nothing to be done." Thereupon she got up, and, taking the candle, put it on the mantel-piece and looked at herself in the glass. "How pale I am!" she said, as she fastened her dress and passed her fingers over her loosened hair. "Come, let us go back to supper. Are you coming?" I sat still and did not move. She saw how deeply I had been affected by the whole scene, and, coming up to me, held out her hand, saying: "Come now, let us go." I took her hand, raised it to my lips, and in spite of myself two tears fell upon it. "Why, what a child you are!" she said, sitting down by my side again. "You are crying! What is the matter?" "I must seem very silly to you, but I am frightfully troubled by what I have just seen." "You are very good! What would you have of me? I can not sleep. I must amuse myself a little. And then, girls like me, what does it matter, one more or less? The doctors tell me that the blood I spit up comes from my throat; I pretend to believe them; it is all I can do for them."
"Listen, Marguerite," I said, unable to contain myself any longer; "I do not know what influence you are going to have over my life, but at this present moment there is no one, not even my sister, in whom I feel the interest which I feel in you. It has been just the same ever since I saw you. Well, for Heaven's sake, take care of yourself, and do not live as you are living now." "If I took care of myself I should die. All that supports me is the feverish life I lead. Then, as for taking care of oneself, that is all very well for women with families and friends; as for us, from the moment we can no longer serve the vanity or the pleasure of our lovers, they leave us, and long nights follow long days. I know it. I was in bed for two months, and after three weeks no one came to see me." "It is true I am nothing to you," I went on, "but if you will let me, I will look after you like a brother, I will never leave your side, and I will cure you. Then, when you are strong again, you can go back to the life you are leading, if you choose; but I am sure you will come to prefer a quiet life, which will make you happier and keep your beauty unspoiled." "You think like that to-night because the wine has made you sad, but you would never have the patience that you pretend to." "Permit me to say, Marguerite, that you were ill for two months, and that for two months I came to ask after you every day." "It is true, but why did you not come up?" "Because I did not know you then." "Need you have been so particular with a girl like me?" "One must always be particular with a woman; it is what I feel, at least." "So you would look after me?" "Yes." "You would stay by me all day?" "Yes. "And even all night?" "As long as I did not weary you." "And what do you call that?" "Devotion." "And what does this devotion come from?" "The irresistible sympathy which I have for you." "So you are in love with me? Say it straight out, it is much more simple." "It is possible; but if I am to say it to you one day, it is not to-day." "You will do better never to say it."
"Why?" "Because only one of two things can come of it." "What?" "Either I shall not accept: then you will have a grudge against me; or I shall accept: then you will have a sorry mistress; a woman who is nervous, ill, sad, or gay with a gaiety sadder than grief, a woman who spits blood and spends a hundred thousand francs a year. That is all very well for a rich old man like the duke, but it is very bad for a young man like you, and the proof of it is that all the young lovers I have had have very soon left me." I did not answer; I listened. This frankness, which was almost a kind of confession, the sad life, of which I caught some glimpse through the golden veil which covered it, and whose reality the poor girl sought to escape in dissipation, drink, and wakefulness, impressed me so deeply that I could not utter a single word. "Come," continued Marguerite, "we are talking mere childishness. Give me your arm and let us go back to the dining-room. They won't know what we mean by our absence." "Go in, if you like, but allow me to stay here." "Why?" "Because your mirth hurts me." "Well, I will be sad." "Marguerite, let me say to you something which you have no doubt often heard, so often that the habit of hearing it has made you believe it no longer, but which is none the less real, and which I will never repeat." "And that is...?" she said, with the smile of a young mother listening to some foolish notion of her child. "It is this, that ever since I have seen you, I know not why, you have taken a place in my life; that, if I drive the thought of you out of my mind, it always comes back; that when I met you to-day, after not having seen you for two years, you made a deeper impression on my heart and mind than ever; that, now that you have let me come to see you, now that I know you, now that I know all that is strange in you, you have become a necessity of my life, and you will drive me mad, not only if you will not love me, but if you will not let me love you." "But, foolish creature that you are, I shall say to you, like Mme. D., 'You must be very rich, then!' Why, you don't know that I spend six or seven thousand francs a month, and that I could not live without it; you don't know, my poor friend, that I should ruin you in no time, and that your family would cast you off if you were to live with a woman like me. Let us be friends, good friends, but no more. Come and see me, we will laugh and talk, but don't exaggerate what I am worth, for I am worth very little. You have a good heart, you want some one to love you, you are too young and too sensitive to live in a world like mine. Take a married woman. You see, I speak to you frankly, like a friend." "But what the devil are you doing there?" cried Prudence, who had come in without our hearing her, and who now stood just inside the door, with her hair half coming down and her dress undone. I recognised the hand of Gaston. "We are talking sense," said Marguerite; "leave us alone; we will be back soon." "Good, good! Talk, my children," said Prudence, going out and closing the door behind her, as if to further emphasize the tone in which she had said these words. "Well, it is agreed," continued Marguerite, when we were alone, "you won't fall in love with me?"
"I will go away." "So much as that?" I had gone too far to draw back; and I was really carried away. This mingling of gaiety, sadness, candour, prostitution, her very malady, which no doubt developed in her a sensitiveness to impressions, as well as an irritability of nerves, all this made it clear to me that if from the very beginning I did not completely dominate her light and forgetful nature, she was lost to me. "Come, now, do you seriously mean what you say?" she said. "Seriously." "But why didn't you say it to me sooner?" "When could I have said it?" "The day after you had been introduced to me at the Opera Comique." "I thought you would have received me very badly if I had come to see you." "Why?" "Because I had behaved so stupidly." "That's true. And yet you were already in love with me." "Yes." "And that didn't hinder you from going to bed and sleeping quite comfortably. One knows what that sort of love means." "There you are mistaken. Do you know what I did that evening, after the Opera Comique?" "No." "I waited for you at the door of the Cafe Anglais. I followed the carriage in which you and your three friends were, and when I saw you were the only one to get down, and that you went in alone, I was very happy." Marguerite began to laugh. "What are you laughing at?" "Nothing." "Tell me, I beg of you, or I shall think you are still laughing at me." "You won't be cross?" "What right have I to be cross?" "Well, there was a sufficient reason why I went in alone." "What?"
"Some one was waiting for me here." If she had thrust a knife into me she would not have hurt me more. I rose and holding out my hand, "Goodbye," said I. "I knew you would be cross," she said; "men are frantic to know what is certain to give them pain." "But I assure you," I added coldly, as if wishing to prove how completely I was cured of my passion, "I assure you that I am not cross. It was quite natural that some one should be waiting for you, just as it is quite natural that I should go from here at three in the morning." "Have you, too, some one waiting for you?" "No, but I must go." "Good-bye, then." "You send me away?" "Not the least in the world." "Why are you so unkind to me?" "How have I been unkind to you?" "In telling me that some one was waiting for you." "I could not help laughing at the idea that you had been so happy to see me come in alone when there was such a good reason for it." "One finds pleasure in childish enough things, and it is too bad to destroy such a pleasure when, by simply leaving it alone, one can make somebody so happy." "But what do you think I am? I am neither maid nor duchess. I didn't know you till to-day, and I am not responsible to you for my actions. Supposing one day I should become your mistress, you are bound to know that I have had other lovers besides you. If you make scenes of jealousy like this before, what will it be after, if that after should ever exist? I never met any one like you." "That is because no one has ever loved you as I love you." "Frankly, then, you really love me?" "As much as it is possible to love, I think." "And that has lasted sinceâ€”?" "Since the day I saw you go into Susse's, three years ago. "Do you know, that is tremendously fine? Well, what am I to do in return?" "Love me a little," I said, my heart beating so that I could hardly speak; for, in spite of the half-mocking smiles with which she had accompanied the whole conversation, it seemed to me that Marguerite began to share my agitation, and that the hour so long awaited was drawing near.
"Well, but the duke?" "What duke?" "My jealous old duke." "He will know nothing." "And if he should?" "He would forgive you." "Ah, no, he would leave me, and what would become of me?" "You risk that for some one else." "How do you know?" "By the order you gave not to admit any one to-night." "It is true; but that is a serious friend." "For whom you care nothing, as you have shut your door against him at such an hour." "It is not for you to reproach me, since it was in order to receive you, you and your friend." Little by little I had drawn nearer to Marguerite. I had put my arms about her waist, and I felt her supple body weigh lightly on my clasped hands. "If you knew how much I love you!" I said in a low voice. "Really true?" "I swear it." "Well, if you will promise to do everything I tell you, without a word, without an opinion, without a question, perhaps I will say yes." "I will do everything that you wish!" "But I forewarn you I must be free to do as I please, without giving you the slightest details what I do. I have long wished for a young lover, who should be young and not self-willed, loving without distrust, loved without claiming the right to it. I have never found one. Men, instead of being satisfied in obtaining for a long time what they scarcely hoped to obtain once, exact from their mistresses a full account of the present, the past, and even the future. As they get accustomed to her, they want to rule her, and the more one gives them the more exacting they become. If I decide now on taking a new lover, he must have three very rare qualities: he must be confiding, submissive, and discreet." "Well, I will be all that you wish."
La Traviata Act I, Scene III (Alfredo has been introduced to Violetta for the first time and confesses his love to her, imploring her to accept his devotion and leave her life as a courtesan.) VIOLETTA Oh qual pallor! Voi qui! ALFREDO Cessata e' l'ansia Che vi turbo'? VIOLETTA Sto meglio. ALFREDO Ah, in cotal guise V'ucciderete aver v'e' d'uopo cura Dell'esser vostro VIOLETTA E lo potrei? ALFREDO Se mia Foste, custode io veglierei pe' vostri Soavi di'. VIOLETTA Che dite? Ha forse alcuno Cura di me? ALFREDO Perche' nessuno al mondo V'ama VIOLETTA Nessun? ALFREDO Tranne sol io. VIOLETTA Gli e' vero! Si' grande amor dimenticato avea. ALFREDO Ridete? E in voi v'ha un core?
VIOLETTA How pale I am! You are here! ALFREDO Are you feeling better now? VIOLETTA Yes, better, thank you. ALFREDO Ah, this way you will kill yourself - you must take care of yourself VIOLETTA But can I? ALFREDO If you were mine, I should watch over you. VIOLETTA What are you saying? Is there anyone to care for me? ALFREDO (passionately) That's because no one in the world loves you VIOLETTA No one? ALFREDO Except me. VIOLETTA It's true! I had forgotten this great love. ALFREDO You laugh? Have you no heart?
VIOLETTA Un cor? Si' forse e a che lo richiedete? ALFREDO Oh, se cio' fosse, non potreste allora Celiar. VIOLETTA Dite davvero? ALFREDO Io non v'inganno. VIOLETTA Da molto e' che mi amate? ALFREDO Ah si', da un anno. Un di', felice, eterea, Mi balenaste innante, E da quel di' tremante Vissi d'ignoto amor. Di quell'amor ch'e' palpito Dell'universo intero, Misterioso, altero, Croce e delizia al cor. VIOLETTA Ah, se cio' e' ver, fuggitemi Solo amistade io v'offro: Amar non so, ne' soffro Un cosi' eroico amor. Io sono franca, ingenua; Altra cercar dovete; Non arduo troverete Dimenticarmi allor. GASTONE Ebben? Che diavol fate? VIOLETTA Si foleggiava. GASTONE Ah! Ah! Sta ben restate. VIOLETTA (ad Alfredo) Amor dunque non piu'. Vi garba il patto?
VIOLETTA A heart? yes, perhaps - but why do you ask? ALFREDO Ah, if that were so, then you couldn't laugh at me. VIOLETTA Are you serious? ALFREDO I do not deceive you. VIOLETTA Have you been in love with me for long? ALFREDO Yes, for a year. One day you passed before me, happy and light as air, and ever since that day, even without knowing it, I loved you with that love which is the very breath of the universe itself - mysterious and noble, both cross and ecstasy of the heart. VIOLETTA Ah, if this is true, then leave me I offer you only friendship: I cannot love, nor can I accept so heroic a love from you. I am simple and frank. You must find another. It won't be hard, then, for you to forget me. GASTONE (in the doorway) Well, now? What the devil are you doing? VIOLETTA We were joking. GASTONE Aha! Good! Please stay. VIOLETTA (to Alfredo) Then - no more love. Do you accept the pact? ALFREDO I obey. I shall leave you.
VIOLETTA A tal giungeste? Prendete questo fiore. ALFREDO Perche'? VIOLETTA Per riportarlo ALFREDO Quando? VIOLETTA Quando Sara' appassito. ALFREDO O ciel! Domani. VIOLETTA Ebben, domani. ALFREDO Io son felice! VIOLETTA D'amarmi dite ancora? ALFREDO Oh, quanto v'amo! VIOLETTA Partite? ALFREDO Parto. VIOLETTA Addio. ALFREDO Di piu' non bramo.
VIOLETTA It's like that, then? Take this flower. ALFREDO Why? VIOLETTA You shall bring it back ALFREDO When? VIOLETTA When it has withered. ALFREDO Oh Heavens! Tomorrow. VIOLETTA Good, tomorrow. ALFREDO I am happy! VIOLETTA Do you still think you love me? ALFREDO (about to leave) Oh, how much I love you! VIOLETTA You are leaving? ALFREDO (coming near her, kissing her hand) I am leaving. VIOLETTA Goodbye. ALFREDO I desire nothing more.
La Dame aux CamĂŠlias, Chapter 24 Excerpt (Marguerite has left Armand and returned to Paris. In a moment of weakness Marguerite admits that she still loves Armand, giving him hope, but flees and continues to be kept by other men. Armandâ€™s illusions are shattered and he is filled with jealousy). When she had gone, I was frightened at the solitude in which she left me. Two hours afterward I was still sitting on the side of the bed, looking at the pillow which kept the imprint of her form, and asking myself what was to become of me, between my love and my jealousy. At five o'clock, without knowing what I was going to do, I went to the Rue d'Antin. Nanine opened to me. "Madame can not receive you," she said in an embarrassed way. "Why?" "Because M. le Comte de N. is there, and he has given orders to let no one in." "Quite so," I stammered; "I forgot." I went home like a drunken man, and do you know what I did during the moment of jealous delirium which was long enough for the shameful thing I was going to do? I said to myself that the woman was laughing at me; I saw her alone with the count, saying over to him the same words that she had said to me in the night, and taking a fivehundred-franc note I sent it to her with these words: "You went away so suddenly that I forgot to pay you. Here is the price of your night." Then when the letter was sent I went out as if to free myself from the instantaneous remorse of this infamous action. I went to see Olympe, whom I found trying on dresses, and when we were alone she sang obscene songs to amuse me. She was the very type of the shameless, heartless, senseless courtesan, for me at least, for perhaps some men might have dreamed of her as I dreamed of Marguerite. She asked me for money. I gave it to her, and, free then to go, I returned home. Marguerite had not answered. I need not tell you in what state of agitation I spent the next day. At half past nine a messenger brought me an envelope containing my letter and the five-hundred-franc note, not a word more. "Who gave you this?" I asked the man. "A lady who was starting with her maid in the next mail for Boulogne, and who told me not to take it until the coach was out of the courtyard." I rushed to the Rue d'Antin. "Madame left for England at six o'clock," said the porter. There was nothing to hold me in Paris any longer, neither hate nor love. I was exhausted by this series of shocks. One of my friends was setting out on a tour in the East. I told my father I should like to accompany him; my father gave me drafts and letters of introduction, and eight or ten days afterward I embarked at Marseilles. It was at Alexandria that I learned from an attache at the embassy, whom I had sometimes seen at Marguerite's, that the poor girl was seriously ill. I then wrote her the letter which she answered in the way you know; I received it at Toulon. I started at once, and you know the rest. Now you have only to read a few sheets which Julie Duprat gave me; they are the best commentary on what I have just told you.
La Traviata: Act II, Scene II Excerpt (Alfredo rushes to Paris to pursue Violetta in a jealous rage. He challenges Violetta’s protector to a game of cards and wins a fortune. He confronts Violetta, who admits that she now loves the Baron. Alfredo calls all the party guests before him and throws his winnings at Violetta saying he has paid her for her services).
ALFREDO Ogni suo aver tal femmina per amor mio sperdea. Io cieco, vile, misero, tutto accettar potea. Ma è tempo ancora! Tergermi da tanta macchia bramo. Qui testimon vi chiamo che qui pagato io l'ho. (Con furioso disprezzo, getta il borsellino ai piedi di Violetta. Violetta sviene nelle braccia di Flora. Mentre Alfredo proferisce le ultime parole, entra suo padre.) TUTTI Oh, infamia orribile tu commettesti! Un cor sensibile così uccidesti! Di donne ignobile insultatore, di qui allontanati, ne desti orror! Va', va', ne desti orror! GERMONT Di sprezzo degno sé stesso rende chi pur nell'ira la donna offende. Dov'è mio figlio? Più non lo vedo: in te più Alfredo trovar non so. ALFREDO Ah, sì - che feci! Ne sento orrore. Gelosa smania, deluso amore mi strazian l'alma; più non ragiono. Da lei perdono più non avrò. Volea fuggirla - non ho potuto! Dall'ira spinto son qui venuto! Or che lo sdegno ho disfogato, me sciagurato! Rimorso n'ho.
ALFREDO This woman was about to lose all she owns for love of me; while I, blinded, vile, wretched, was capable of accepting everything. But there is still time! I wish to cleanse myself of such a stain. I have called you here as witnesses that I have paid her all I owe. (With furious contempt, he throws a purse down at Violetta's feet. Violetta faints in the arms of Flora. As Alfredo is speaking the last few words, his father enters.) ALL Oh, what a terrible thing you have done! You have killed a sensitive heart! Ignoble man, to insult a woman so, leave this house at once, you fill us with horror! Go, go, you fill us with horror! GERMONT Whoever, even in anger, offends a woman exposes himself to the contempt of all. Where is my son? I cannot find him, for in you I no longer see Alfredo. ALFREDO Ah, yes - what have I done? I am horrified. Maddening jealousy, disillusioned love torture my heart - I have lost my reason. She can never forgive me now, I tried to flee from her - I couldn't! I came here, spurred on by anger! Now that I have vented my fury, I am sick with remorse - oh, wretched man!
TUTTI (a Violetta) Oh, quanto peni! Ma pur fa cor. Qui soffre ognuno del tuo dolor; fra cari amici qui sei soltanto; rasciuga il pianto che t'inondò. GERMONT (da sé) Io sol fra tanti so qual virtude di quella misera il sen racchiude. GERMONT Io so che l'ama, che gli è fedele, eppur crudele tacer dovrò! BARONE (piano, ad Alfredo) A questa donna l'atroce insulto qui tutti offese, ma non inulto fia tanto oltraggio - provar vi voglio che il vostro orgoglio fiaccar saprò. ALFREDO (da sé) Ohimé, che feci! Ne sento orrore, ecc. Da lei perdono più non avrò. VIOLETTA (riavendosi) Alfredo, Alfredo, di questo core non puoi comprendere tutto l'amore; tu non conosci che fino a prezzo del tuo disprezzo provato io l'ho! TUTTI (a Violetta) Quanto peni! Fa cor! ALFREDO Ohimè! che feci! Ne sento orror! VIOLETTA Ma verrà tempo in che il saprai come t'amassi confesserai. Dio dai rimorsi ti salvi allora, ah! Io spenta ancora pur t'amerò. (Germont trae seco il figlio: il Barone lo segue. Violetta è condotta in altra stanza dal Dottore e da Flora; gli altri si disperdono.)
ALL (to Violetta) Ah, how you suffer! But take heart, here, each of us suffers for your sorrow; you are here among dear friends; dry the tears which bathe your face. GERMONT (to himself) I alone among these people know what virtue there is in this poor woman's heart. GERMONT I know she loves him, is faithful to him, and yet I must keep a pitiless silence! BARON (in a low voice, to Alfredo) The atrocious insult to this woman has shocked us all, but such an outrage shall not go unavenged. I will show you that I am well able to break your pride. ALFREDO (to himself) Alas, what have I done, etc. I am horrified she can never forgive me now. VIOLETTA (regaining consciousness) Alfredo, Alfredo you cannot understand fully the love I have in my heart; you do not know that even at the risk of your disdain I have put it to the test! ALL (to Violetta) How you suffer! But take heart! ALFREDO Alas, what have I done? I am horrified! VIOLETTA But the day will come when you will know You will admit how much I loved you. May God save you, then, from remorse, I shall be dead, but I shall love you still. (Germont leads his son away with him; the Baron follows him. Flora and the Doctor accompany Violetta to her room. The others go out.) Piave, Francesco M. "â€œLa Traviataâ€? by Giuseppe Verdi Libretto (English Italian)." DM's Opera Site. Murashev.com, n.d. Web. 06 May 2014. <http://www.murashev.com/opera/La_traviata_libretto_English_Italian>.