Commentary: 'La Traviata' is a timeless statement about class

It's not surprising that "La Traviata" was the most performed opera during the 2012-13 operatic season. Not "Don Giovanni." Not "Carmen." Not "La Boheme." Not even "Madame Butterfly." But "La Traviata."

Audiences in Southern California were able to understand its enduring relevance recently when the titular opera — which was written by composer Giuseppe Verdi and debuted in 1852 — had a three-day limited engagement with the Pacific Symphony at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Orange County under the direction of maestro Carl St. Clair.

The opera's popularity can be inferred by its relatable story lines. Its tale of love, class separation and the social stigma it causes are ubiquitous in today's dramas.

Present-day and 20th century films have included subplots paralleling those in "La Traviata." Many Hollywood films have included plot points — such as contemplating the adequacy of a potential mate for a child or worrying when the child becomes serious about someone of a lower social standing — that are the foundations of this popular opera.


La Traviata" is a love story about a woman named Violetta, who is, for lack of a better term, a high-class escort. She falls in love with Alberto, who is not royalty but is from a more prestigious family, to say the least.

Alberto's father opposes this proposed union between his son and Violetta. He knows of her being a courtesan and worries that her reputation will adversely affect his daughter's engagement with her much more illustrious fiance.

A father's deep concern about his kin's romantic travails is a theme that has relevance. The lack of a strong female presence in favor of an overprotective father creates a twist on the predictable Oedipean story line.

Verdi drives the story to show how Alberto's father comes to be more open-minded about Violetta when he notices her table manners and sophistication. Violetta's demeanor, haute etiquette and rising status in the social scene almost mask her sullied past. These are strong themes prevalent in films such as "Titanic," "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Pretty Woman."

Violetta, who has been ill all along, gets worse suddenly and succumbs to her illness. The short-lived and scrutinized love between Alberto and her comes to an abrupt end.

This is unlike the relevance of "La Traviata," which seems to endure.

IMAN SADRI is a cosmetic dentist and blogger based in Irvine.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World