Verdi based La traviata on Alexandre Dumas fils's novel and play La Dame aux camélias, inspired by the life and death of the real Parisian courtesan Marie Duplessis. Verdi offered a more complex and sympathetic portrayal of his heroine than Dumas, highlighting Violetta's noble nature and her devotion to Alfredo. La traviata had an initially lukewarm reception, but after Verdi revised the work in 1854 it became enormously successful. It is currently the most performed opera in the world, and the role of Violetta a favourite for many star sopranos.
Richard Eyre's stunning naturalistic production contrasts the superficial glamour of 19th-century Parisian high life with intimate scenes for Violetta with Alfredo and Giorgio Germont, culminating in the heart-breaking final act. Verdi's sublime score contains some of his most inspired arias and duets, including Violetta's introspective 'Ah fors'è lui' and hedonistic 'Sempre libera', Violetta and Germont's poignant Act II encounter and Alfredo and Violetta's 'Parigi, o cara', in which they dream of a happy future.