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