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Written by Giuseppe Verdi, La traviata is an opera in three acts that is played to an Italian libretto composed by Franceso Maria Piave. It is based on the novel La dame aux Camélias written by Alexandre Dumas fils, which was published in 1848. “La traviata” is translated as “the woman who strayed,” or figuratively, “the fallen one.” The opera was first performed on March 6, 1853 in Venice's Teatro la Fenice. Verdi and Piave wanted a contemporary setting for the opera. However, La Fenice authorities insisted the opera's setting should be in the past. It would be years later when Verdi and Piave's ideas would be implemented in the show. The setting for the opera is the beginning of the 18th century Paris and the areas surrounding it. However, a lot of the more modern productions of the opera set it in the 19th century.
The first act of the opera shows Alfredo trying to sway Violetta to leave her lover who is an older baron. The woman, however, thinks about whether she would remain a rich man's mistress while her heart remained closed to the idea of true love, or open her heart to true love and possible disappointment. In the second act, Alfredo and Violetta move to the country, where Alfredo's father comes to learn that Violetta was supporting Alfredo. He tries to convince Alfredo to leave her, thinking it unacceptable to see his son being supported by a “fallen” woman's income.
In the third act, Violetta commits a sacrifice for the Alfredo's sake, which he misunderstands, as she partly intended it to be. A lot of things happen until Alfredo finally goes on a long voyage to forget Violetta. His father, having Violetta's sacrifice, writes to him while Violetta waits to be reconciled with him before her life ended. La traviata has gained immense popularity. It ranks third in Opera America's list of 20 most-performed operas in North America, following Madama Butterly and La bohème.