La Travi­ata: Love, Death And Di­vas

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - TV & RADIO -

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

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