“best of” countdown #6 – dying to wear a ball gown?

(first published June 20, 2010)  

Whenever I think of  La Traviata, I think of Violetta’s gorgeous gowns. If opera companies do Verdi’s potboiler in period (and that is an if, by the way), operagoers expect to be wowed by Violetta’s lavish costumes and are seldom disappointed. 

Anna Moffo as Violetta--Wow! What a gown!

Some of the loveliest gowns I’ve found hail from contemporary and not-so-contemporary productions.  The University of Princeton Library Archives has some stunning photos of some of the greatest divas of all-time (perhaps some of your favorites) as Violetta. All I can say to that little .edu link is, “Ooh, the divas. Ahh, the gowns.”       

If you’d like to don one of these, all you have to do is get contracted to sing Violetta for a major house with a major production budget, like Renée Fleming in Covent Garden’s La Traviata, 2009.       

Renée Fleming as Violetta (photo credit: Alastair Muir)

Oh, one more little thing. You have to know how to sing Verdi.        

Oh, and one more little detail . . . you have to die at the end of the story . . . but you’ll look exquisite for a few shining moments.       

A moment of silence, please, for more gorgeous Violetta gowns that are probably hanging in storage.  How many gowns are sitting idle as I write this, heaven only knows. (Too many.)    

WNO favorite Elizabeth Futral

Here are two more contemporary photographs of Violetta gowns, one from the Washington National Opera’s 2008 “ultra-conventional but visually lavish” La Traviata featuring Elizabeth Futral and the other of Madeline Bender, when she was touring the United States with Teatro Lirico.   

Madeline Bender as Violetta, Teatro Lirico

And now, the pièce de résistance, a decades’ old photo of Renata Tebaldi as Violetta, 1957.       

Renata Tebaldi as Violetta


Filed under Best of Operatoonity, Classic Opera, Performers

2 Responses to “best of” countdown #6 – dying to wear a ball gown?

  1. Ah, yes. The virginal courtesan. Every man’s fantasy, no? You are very observant, Cecily!

  2. Interesting that the majority of those gowns are white! Do you suppose it’s a traditional thing (like Tosca’s red dress in Act II) or are they trying to make an ironic-but-important comment on Violetta’s purity?