I wept all night when this production was last revived in 2016, and not just because of the minor key, and not just for brave, self-sacrificing Violetta, breaking away from the family that her racy reputation will bring down, but for the character who never appears – the sister of her lover whose own marriage prospects, if Violetta does not detach, will be ruined.
Violetta is mortally ill anyway, the love affair will be breached by death: she will give another woman the chance of a future she does not have.
Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho shares the role of Violetta with Angel Blue
The opera opens in the plush golden salon where Violetta entertains until dawn, in Bob Crowley's sumptuous design. When she admits to her love for Alfredo, the couple move to the country, where fabric samples and unhung pictures suggest a life slowed down, stripped of high society's competitiveness and perfectionism.
After a row and a disastrous evening in the dizzying glamour of the casino to which she returns, the dying Violetta is, finally, all but alone in a vast room where the louvred shutters flicker with the giant silhouettes of revellers outside.
Sharing the role of Violetta will be two outstanding sopranos with dramatic skills to match their amazing voices: Ermonela Jaho and Angel Blue. In the tenor role of Alfredo we will hear American Charles Castronovo and the French singer Benjamin Bernheim. And look out for the performance that is also relayed to cinemas across London (30 Jan): the great Plácido Domingo will be singing the role of Alfredo's father for that night only.
Listen out too, in the small role of Flora, for the Russian mezzo-soprano Aigul Akhmetshina, who made such an impression in the title role of ROH's La Tragédie de Carmen at Wilton's Music Hall last year.
Italian specialist Antonella Manacorda conducts most performances.
Often music-lovers ask where to start with opera, or where to take a newcomer. This La Traviata fits the bill, and also has fresh ideas for those who already know their way around. It's a treat, wherever you start.
La Traviata is sung in Italian with English surtitles. Booking opens at 9AM on 31 October. The performance on 30 January is relayed live to cinemas across London: click here for details
|What||La Traviata, Royal Opera House|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
14 Jan 19 – 31 Jan 19, nine performances
|Price||£12 - £225|
|Website||Click here for further information and booking|