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October 2, 2015

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7 Relationship Lessons from the Opera La Traviata

On the evening of July 5th, I attended the live simulcast performance of #Verdi’s #LaTraviata from the #SanFranciscoOpera at AT&T Park in San Francisco. This was my second outing to opera in the park in San Francisco.  Last year’s performance was Verdi’s #Rigoletto an opera about #love and #romance.  This time I was sure to dress warmly and brought a jacket and avoided last year’s disaster of shivering in my T-shirt and shorts. Yes, it is cold in the summer in San Francisco and on this night it was a cool 59 degrees F.  I, along with 26,000 other people in the park and perhaps another 3,000 people in the opera house were treated to a wonderful performance by a cast headed by #AilynPerez as #ViolettaValery, Perez’s real life husband #StephenCostello as #AlfredoGermont and #QuinnKelsey as #GiorgioGermont, Alfredo’s father.


My synopsis of the opera with 7 #Relationship Lessons:



Violetta (pronounced Vee-o-let-ta) is a courtesan or in today’s language a hooker or sex worker.  However, she is a high society sex worker.  Think #ElliotSpitzer type of sex worker.  Violetta has a party where she meets Alfredo who is from a respectable but probably lower middle class family.  (Remember this is 19th century Europe.) Alfredo and Violetta are attracted to each other but not in a totally lustful way.  Instead, it is the beginning of love. Act I of the opera concludes with Violetta singing a big aria commonly known as “Sempre Libera.”  In this aria, she tries to shake off the strange feeling of love by reaffirming her life as a sex worker.  The thought of falling in love is just plain madness she says.  In this final Act I aria, we hear Alfredo’s voice in the back ground advocating for love as Violetta sings.  Alfredo’s voice causes Violetta to fight to maintain her resolve: do  not fall in love; I am a sex worker who goes from pleasure to pleasure.  After all, given her lifestyle, who could possibly fall in love with her?


Lesson One

Some things never change.  Today, just as it was back in the 19th century, many people still fall in love with the “wrong” person.  Sometimes the person is from a different walk of life, whether it is economic/class, culture, race, religion or sexual orientation.  We really can’t help who we fall in love with.  Or can we?


Act II

Alfredo and Violetta have been living together for several months in the lap of luxury.  However, Alfredo is not really able to support their luxurious lifestyle and there are money troubles.  (Sound familiar?) Violetta sets out to fix the financial troubles but doesn’t tell Alfredo.  She sends her maid Annina to sell some stuff so that the bills can be paid and instructs Annina not to tell Alfredo about the plan to pay off the debt.


Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father arrives and this guy is a piece of work.  He basically tells Violetta that she is bringing shame to his family and is preventing suitors from marrying his daughter, Alfredo’s sister.  Violetta is surprised to learn that Alfredo has a sister.  She offers to leave Alfredo for awhile so that his sister can find a suitor but Giorgio tells her that she must leave Alfredo for good.  Giorgio lays it on pretty thick with Violetta including that he was sent by God with the message that Violetta must leave Alfredo.  He also tells Violetta that she deserves love and that some day she will find someone who can love her. (But just not his son.) Violetta agrees to leave Alfredo for good.  She asks Giorgio to take care of Alfredo because she knows he will be devastated by the breakup.


Alfredo has an argument with Giorgio, his father, during which his father basically tells him that he should be grateful that he got rid of the sex worker and this was for his own good and isn’t he a loving father for taking care of his son?  Alfredo learns that the woman he loves has left him and also finds out that she has paid off the debt. Alfredo is hurt and enraged and goes to a party where Violetta has returned to her old life of being a sex worker.  She is at the party with a baron. Alfredo humiliates Violetta in front of the party guests and then is thrown out of the party.


Lesson Two

Money is one of the most common issues that couples argue about. We can do some pretty hurtful things when we get hurt in a relationship.  It’s a good idea to talk with your partner/s