Musically, “La Traviata” is not a noble specimen even of Italian opera. But its abundant melody, much of it really graceful and refined, and the genuine emotion of many of its strains, have saved it from oblivion which has overtaken other operas of its class and time. It is essentially a “singing opera” of the old florid school; and one cannot reasonably object to the verdict that it is “chiefly employed now as a means of allowing a popular prima donna to display her high notes and her diamonds.” In his efforts to avoid vulgarity, Verdi occasionally falls into the slough of sentimentality. Nevertheless, the pathos of some of his scenes must be admitted as appealing, and that is mainly why the opera still keeps its place in popular favour. It is not musically great, but it is very humanly interesting.

Read the whole article here.

Is this one person’s opinion, stated as fact, or do a lot of folks feel this way? (I can’t locate the author of the article, although I did locate the author of the quote included*.) Do I have to not admire La Traviata after all? Oh dear … and here I was absolutely loving the music.


*The quote about “high notes and her diamonds” is by R. A. Streatfeild (1866-1919). I’ve downloaded his book from Project Gutenberg so we’ll see what else I can learn. I think it’ll be a good read. Certainly I’ll learn, as I honestly don’t know much about opera and its history, sad but true.


  1. Just my opinion, of course, but when we did Traviata in Spokane Opera last year I loved the music! Must admit I have only done a small number of operas – less than 10; so I’m no guru on the subject, but it was a lot of fun. This is the only Verdi opera I have played.

  2. I think it’s been criticized for being Puccini-esque (another heated debate) vs. the seriousness of the Wagner school. Of course, we know Verdi and Wagner had polarized opinions on the future of music, so is it fair to compare them?

    I love this opera. There’s a reason why it’s so loved and successful–perhaps due in part to its accessibility.