Relayed from La Scala, Milan
Scene : A salon in the house of Violetta
THERE is no overture. A short orchestral prelude pervaded by a strong note of sadness opens the work. Violetta is welcoming a party. Alfred is among the guests. He is asked to sing, and gives the spirited drinking song, 'Where beauty and mirth '. He is joined by the chorus and echoed by Violetta. The strains of a valse are heard from an adjoining room. The guests are about to proceed thither when Violetta is seized with sudden illness and obliged to rest. At her request the guests leave her to recover, but Alfred lingers and declares his love. Violetta at first refuses to take him seriously. Soon, however, she realises his deep earnestness. Left alone, she falls to musing on this strange wondrous emotion that has entered her life, and then sings the famous ' Ah, fors' e iui ' (' Ah, was it he my heart foretold '). In the midst of her contemplation her mood changes. What hope is there of complete happiness for a woman of her light character and sullied reputation ? Rather will she leave herself free to fulfil the round of pleasure. Her lover's voice is heard outside, but Violetta refuses to be beguiled from her intention of living for pleasure alone. The first act closes here.
8.30 (app.) ' During the Interval'
8.45 Act II
Scene : A Salon on the ground floor of a country house near Paris
The artists taking part include:
G. GOBELLI (soprano) TITO SCHIPA (tenor) G. DANISE (baritone)
The Orchestra under the direction of SERGIO FAILONI
VIOLETTA's better nature prevails, and in the second act she is in quiet retirement with Alfred in a house on the outskirts of Paris. Alfred enters in hunting costume and sings of his devotion. He then departs for Paris in order to raise some money so that he may repay Violetta, who has been surreptitiously contributing to the upkeep of the house. In Alfred's absence his father appears and endeavours to persuade Violetta to give up his son. Violetta is finally prevailed upon when the elder Germont tells of his daughter (' Fair as a rose in Paradise ') whose chances of a happy marriage are being ruined by the scandal. In spite of the inevitable consequences of misery and the resulting reaction on her health, probably leading to death, Violetta makes the sacrifice demanded of her. To make the parting possible and to prevent Alfred from following her, she returns to her old life in Paris, and pretends to be unfaithful. As Alfred staggers under the import of the news, contained in a letter from Violetta, his father quietly enters and consoles him with the reminder of home in the lovely, simple, song, ' Hath thy home in fair
Provence '. But quickly the desire for revenge fills Alfred's heart, and he hastens to Paris.
The scene now changes to the house of one of Violetta's former friends. A group of gypsies are telling fortunes. They are followed by a number of guests disguised as Spanish matadors, who sing and dance. Alfred breaks in upon this brilliant and animated gathering. Shortly Violetta follows upon the arm of the friend. In an interview with Alfred she pleads with him to leave the house lest he fall in the duel that is bound to follow his slights. But he will not listen to her prayers, calls loudly to the assembled company, and grossly insults Violetta. Overcome by shame and emotion, she faints. The guests denounce Alfred for his heartless cruelty as his father enters. The act is brought to a close during which Violetta sings ' Oh, Alfred, Alfred, alas, thou know'st not how true and tenderly this heart hath loved thee