La Traviata noting

Notes on Verdi's La Traviata
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  LA TRAVIATA NOTES General: Librettist: Francesco Maria Piave Date: March 1853 (failure) Revised performance Date: May 1854 Theatre and City: Teatro La Fenice, Venice Revised performance Theatre and City: Teatro San Benedetto, Venice Source Material: La dame aux camélias: The BOOK and then later the PLAY Source Material Author: Alexandre Dumas fils Source Material Date: 1848 (book), 1852 (play) Issues of Innovation:    CONTEMPORARY SETTING:   o   Censors refused this:      Re-set at the beginning of the 18 th  Century   o   Based on a modern source as well!!!      USE OF DISEASE AS SUBJECT MATTER:   o   Tuberculosis (consumption) was really big disease at the time.      COURTESAN HEROINE   o   Idea of a courtesan for a heroine was shocking to the audiences and provoked critics to react passionately.      MUSICAL PERSONALITY –  Particularly in Violetta      THE PRELUDE (see operatic form)      MANIPULATION OF TRAGEDY GENRE:   o   Seen as an art form of high status, therefore created a new seriousness for the operatic stage.   o   Romanticism with emphasis on feelings:      Undermined by being a courtesan, idea of immediate sexual gratification   o   Delayed happy ending (often with lovers meeting beyond the grave)      Violetta’s death and Alfredo living keeps the lovers permanently apart throughout the opera   o   Romantic death often with symbolism of moving on to a higher place and disconnected from the real world:      Violetta’s death is ugly, she is scared of death and it is juxtaposed against the sound of people enjoying themselves offstage- placing it in real life    OPERATIC FORM FURTHER INNOVATED:    o   Use of repeating themes of music like the love theme, the breathing theme.   o   More developments of form  Operatic Form:    PRELUDE: o   Musical depiction of the start of the novel (Violetta (Marguerie) dying in bed as her belongings are being auctioned off)   o   Opening phrases shortening in length reflect Violetta’s loss of breath –  (Used later in Act 3)   o   Love theme then appears again preempting the music of hers and Alredo’s love.      ‘Ah, forsè lui’   o   UNBELIEVABLE DEPICTION OF AN EMFATUATION LOVE THROUGH MUSIC.   o   Uses material from her previous duet with Alfredo.      Shows that she is thinking about him and that she loves him.      In ‘di quell’amor’ –  turns into their anthem of love.       Andantino: ‘Ah forsè lui:      ABAB and coda (B sections are the reprise of ‘di quell’amor’ which is built up to very obviously.    Tempo di mezzo: ‘Follie! Follie!’      Suggesting she is mad wanting to settle down with Alfredo.    Recit. Acts as a banishing of the love theme and she settles into her cabaletta suggesting she wants to be free.    C abaletta: ‘sempre libera’      Trying to suggest to herself that she is free     ALFREDO OFFSTAGE PROMTING an ARIOSO:      Singing ‘amore palpito’ offstage and his singing stops her flat as she is musically transfixed by him.    ‘Follie!’ then returns with huge coloratura as she tries again to banish his voice    Cabaletta (II): Sempre Libera:    A repeat of the cabaletta happens followed by Alfredo being heard offstage again.     Violetta continues trying to banish him from her mind repeating’ fly, my thoughts’.      ‘Addio del passato’ – Violetta Aria Act III o   ONE MOVEMENT (doesn’t have the strength to build into a faster second movement and so helps show bleakness)   o   BLEAK DEPICTION OF DEATH –  unmarked grave without a cross.   o   Recit. –  letter and recitative   o   Reads the letter from Germont saying that he told Alfredo that she does love him.      Underscored of ‘di quell’amor’ but the shimmering tremolo strings make it seem like a distant sobbing dream   o   Then a short recitative ending in the finality of a downwards octave leap on ‘morta’ –  forshaddowing death.   o   Movement 1- Andante mosso- ‘addio del passato’   o   Melody line is that of a dramatic soprano   o   Accompaniment mirrors Violetta’s livelihood, growing and dying with her strength and energy      starts with sparse quaver beats (line a failing heart or failing breath).      She builds up a bit of strength as the quavers become more sustained and the orchestration more dense but it dies away again back to the three quavers.      (these three quavers can be seen as preempting the death motif –  it is on her mind but not yet in full fruition).   o   The OBOE:      This instrument almost represents Violetta’s thoughts in this aria:      Often taking over the melody line when her character does not have the strength to speak- an extension of herself.   o   The ENDING:      Doesn’t end on the conventional chord following her final A but rather lets the accompaniment fizzle out, again an extension of her character continuing on from a final note (drama before music).      DUETS - 3 important duets in the opera:    ‘Un dì felice’ –  Act I –  Alfredo and Violetta    o   Sets up Alfredo and Violetta’s love for the first time.      ‘Alfredo’ –  Act II –  Violetta and Germont    o   C. 20 minutes in length   o   Where Violetta chooses to do whats best for Alfredo and his family (according to Germont) and so transforms into a Madonna.   o   Germont tries to persuade Violetta to leave Alfredo.   o   Uses excuses like the turn- off of age and Alfredo’s sister’s inability to get married if they stay together to persuade her.      ‘Signora’ –  Act III –  Violetta and Alfredo   o   Violetta, at the sight of Alfredo, suddenly comes back to vocal life with a huge cadenza with him. o   An arioso of interlocking responsive vocal lines sees VIoletta flake away back to her ill self o   ‘Parigi o Cara’   o   Starts after the music restores Violetta to her weakened state. o   Alfredo, still perfectly healthy starts a traditionally-flavoured melody with waltz-like string accompaniment.    Violetta tries to respond but needs Alfredo saying ‘si’ to urge her voice on to the completion of the line. And then underpinning her. Feels like he is musically keeping her afloat. o   Alfredo, seeing Violetta is falling off and so interrupts the end of her line and tries a second melody with the same words, this time a spin- off of their srcinal ‘di quell’amor’ motif but to no avail, Violetta can only respond with short breathful responsnses. o   Alfredo ends singing Violetta’s breathless motif, almost in recognition of her demise. o   FEELS LIKE, VOCALLY, ALFREDO IS TRYING TO RESTORE HER BUT, THROUGH THE DUET, VIOLETTA IS GETTING WEAKER AND MORE DILLUSIONAL    Can see al this just through the music and the vocal line.
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