La Traviata: Love, Death And Divas
Verdi’s La Traviata is the world’s most popular opera, performed more than 3,000 times in the past five years. Yet this was an opera that, when it was first performed in the middle of the 19th century, was seen by many as profoundly shocking for being the tale of a courtesan, Violetta Valéry.
In 1856, the opera received its British premiere, at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London. As Professor Amanda Vickery charts, in a documentary she co-presents with classical music expert Tom Service, it exposed Victorian hypocrisy around sex, and challenged social mores.
Drawing on such sources as court records, memoirs and social reformer Henry Mayhew’s interviews with prostitutes, Vickery considers how the opera helped to change attitudes towards sex workers. She also looks at the career of women’s rights campaigner Josephine Butler (1828-1906), who worked to improve the welfare of prostitutes.
The documentary will feature key excerpts from the opera itself, re-staged especially for television.
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Amanda Vickery explores the history of Vivaldi’s