• La Traviata Educator Guide

What to Expect from La Traviata

“Verdi is absolutely focused on Violetta,” says Willy Decker, the director of the Met’s production of La Traviata. “He follows her like an obsessed lover through this piece.” He’s not alone. Audiences have adored this heroine for more than a century and a half, and her enduring charm is explored in Decker’s production, set in a timeless present.

Some operas sweep through vast swaths of history. Some turn on mistaken identity, political intrigue, magic, envy, or greed. But La Traviata breaks the mold. Verdi and his librettist, Francesco Maria Piave, spin a tale of social expectation and conflict, a story about a courtesan who falls in love and ultimately sacrifices everything for her love. Verdi makes us care so acutely about his heroine that her heart and happiness become the highest stakes possible.

  • Classroom Activity

    A full-length activity, designed to support your ongoing curriculum.
  • Musical Highlights

    Three "Musical Highlights" designed to focus on bits of music from La Traviata to cultivate familiarity with the work.
  • Performance Activities

    Performance Activities for students to enjoy during the Metropolitan Opera HD transmission.
  • Post-Show Discussion

    A post-transmission activity, integrating the Live in HD experience into students' wider views of the performing arts and humanities.

La Traviata at the Met

La Traviata is a story whose fatal conclusion is certain from the first few chords of the prelude. Violetta, the “fallen woman” of the opera’s title, cannot doubt that the tuberculosis she suffers from will take her life, and Decker views all of Violetta’s actions in light of this constant awareness. Emphasizing her isolation, Violetta appears at the opening scene party in a blazing red dress that stands in sharp contrast to the choristers, all of whom (men and women) wear back-and-white male garb. A giant clock on stage more or less counts down Violetta’s waning life, and death is personified through the character of Doctor Grenvil, her one constant companion on stage throughout the entire opera. This production brings the plight of Violetta into sharp focus for a generation all too familiar with the risks, physical and emotional, of romantic excess.

The activities in this guide are designed to help students find connections between their world, their own day-to-day concerns, and the world encountered in La Traviata. The main Classroom Activity illuminates the social relations at the opera’s core, grounding them in their original historical context but also considering them in light of contemporary mores. Other activities familiarize students with Verdi’s thrillingly expressive music and the stunning, minimalist visuals of this Live in HD production.