Think you don’t know LA TRAVIATA?
Chances are, you actually do
La traviata has captured the hearts and imagination of audiences’ world over since its premiere.
Giuseppe Verdi’s score contains some of the greatest opera arias and scenes ever composed, so chances are you will recognise some of them once you hear them, but that’s not it: many elements of pop culture have been influenced by the powerful love story between the “fallen woman” Violetta and the aristocrat Alfredo.
Are you a fan of Moulin Rouge or Pretty Woman? The similarities are uncanning, and the tips of the hat to Verdi’s masterpiece are unmistakable.
While Baz Luhrmann said the inspiration for his 2001 musical-romantic drama was the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, the tale of a Paris showgirl and her doomed love affair with a young writer finds more than an echo in Verdi’s opera. The parallels between Violetta and Satine – both courtesans, both suffering from consumption, both forced to drive their lovers away with lies – are clear.
A rich man and a courtesan embarking on a whirlwind romance: does the plot ring bells? Is it La traviata we’re talking about, or is it Pretty Woman?
Both Violetta and Vivienne try to fit in their new life, challenging the common stigma of their occupation.
And do you remember which opera Edward and Vivienne go to see together? Needless to say, it’s La traviata!
The story and music of a love that transcends any situation or condition was an ideal choice for Edward and Vivian’s night at the opera. And it made for a (spoiler alert!) unique, romantic happy ending scene as Richard Gere rides his limousine horse to rescue “princess Vivian,” blasting Violetta’s declaration of love “Amami, Alfredo” (Love me, Alfredo) on the car’s stereo system.
Verdi’s score is featured in many movies, but Aussies can’t forget drag queen Felicia screaming it across the desert atop a bus, with sparkly silver fabric billowing behind her. Yes, it’s Priscilla – Queen of the Desert we’re talking about.
Guy Pearce/Felicia delivers a fabulous lip-sync to Violetta’s aria, ‘Sempre libera’, in which she declares that she will always be free and scales the vocal heights with great flair.
And last but not least, here is one of the most famous Drinking Songs ever written… “Libiamo ai lieti calici”, sung in the first act during a late-night Parisian shindig, is a swooning, waltz-time celebration of the pleasures of love, good company and wine.
It’s used in the films The Godfather, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, And God created woman, and even Return of the Living Dead 5 – Rave to the Grave.