our orchestra is in place, soloists have been auditioned and new singers have joined the Chorus in preparation for this musical treat. Costumes are being designed, colours chosen and staging envisioned.
The opera is based on Alexandre Dumas' (fils) novel La Dame aux camellias and was first performed at the Teatro La Fenice, Venice in 1863. Apparently, the soprano was 'unsatisfactory', the tenor was 'not in good voice', and the baritone was unhappy singing in an opera with 'no intrigues', 'no duels', and 'none of the trappings of high romance'. After the first night Verdi himself described it as a 'fiasco' after the audience had laughed at the thought of an extremely stout lady dying of consumption.
Before you decide to cross the tickets off your Christmas list let me reassure you. The Venetians heard La Traviata again just over a year later. This time it was pronounced an overwhelming success and was produced throughout Italy. then Europe, and soon became the most talked-of opera of its day. Fiona Maddocks in the Guardian described it as one of the top 50 operas, and as perhaps Verdi's most performed work, containing all the elements of operatic addiction: a beautiful, consumptive, fallen-woman heroine, grand Parisian party scenes, the travails of love, a troubled father and a deathbed scene, all set to Verdi's faultless score.
What's not to like?