The sultry atmosphere of intoxicating parties, an unbridled life of luxury, sparkling champagne – and a slow but lethal illness. This was what existence was like for the "lady of the camellias" before her true love walked into her life.
La traviata– The fallen woman. The truly sensational theme swept through the art of the 19th century, making a stunningly beautiful Parisian courtesan named Violetta Valéry into one of Verdi’s most famous heroines.
After being forced by a grave lung ailment to temporarily withdraw from society life, Violetta Valéry, the most glittering courtesan in all of Paris, is once again holding a ball attended by Parisian bohemians, rich and prominent gentlemen as well as Violetta's doctor and other courtesans, such as the popular Flora. Violetta is first seen at the side of her patron, the wealthy Baron Douphol, but at the soirée she is introduced to the young Alfredo Germont, who openly begins to court the woman. As it turns out, the young man has been in love with Violetta for the past year – in passionate and sincere love. When Violetta starts to feel faint during the ball, Alfredo attempts, with unfeigned concern, to convince her to abandon her self-destructive way of life and choose his love for her instead. Violetta is torn: can she give up this glittering life which, despite being full of gaiety, is nevertheless empty and barren, in order for the first time to at last be truly loved and to love in return?
Three months later, Violetta and Alfredo are living happily in love with each other in the countryside not far from Paris. The carefree rural life, however, does not come cheap, and as Alfredo realises one day, Violetta is covering expenses with money generated from selling all of her valuables. Upon hearing of this, Alfredo is overcome with shame and rushes off to Paris to obtain funds.
Violetta receives a letter from Flora inviting her to a ball that evening – but she's not planning to go: Violetta is now living a different life. In Alfredo's absence, an unexpected guest arrives: Giorgio Germont has approached his son's beloved in order to convince the woman to leave Alfredo, since carrying on a relationship with a courtesan compromises the entire Germont family, and what's more, it could hinder Alfredo's younger sister chances of being married. Although Violetta is heartbroken, she finally promises Germont that she will make this sacrifice for the family of the man she loves. She only asks one thing: for Alfredo to be told the truth should she die. Genuinely surprised and awed by the woman's generosity of spirit, the elder Germont leaves the house. With a heavy heart, Violetta attempts to write a letter bidding farewell to Alfredo, but he surprises her by returning before she can finish. The sobbing woman embraces her beloved and then rushes off in a state of agitation. Still suspecting nothing, Alfredo is soon brought a letter: Violetta's letter, in which she has broken off their relationship. Giorgio Germont returns to console his devastated son, asking him to return to his family. Alfredo learns that Violetta has accepted the invitation to Flora's ball that night and believes that his beloved has left him for her old life and the baron. Blind with rage, he swears revenge.
That same night, news reaches Flora's masked ball that Violetta and Alfredo have broken up. The unexpectedly appearing Alfredo confirms the rumour himself. Violetta also arrives, on the arm of the baron, and the tension in the hall increases. Alfredo starts to recklessly play cards, winning each round and meanwhile aiming provocative comments at the aggrieved baron, who calls the young Germont out to a “duel” of high-stakes gambling. As Alfredo wins more and more, the tension continues to grow. Flora summons the guests to supper, giving Violetta a chance to talk privately with Alfredo. She asks him to leave the soirée, fearing that the situation between Alfredo and the baron will only grow worse. The unhappy young man asks his beloved to come back to him, but Violetta is compelled to keep the promise she made to the elder Germont: she lies to Alfredo, telling him she loves the baron. The young man's world turns black, and he humiliates Violetta in front of the entire company, throwing all his winnings from the card table at the woman to pay her for her “services”. Entering at this instant is Alfredo's father, who is just as shocked as the guests to witness Alfredo's awful deed.
Violetta is dying. Only her servant, Annina, and the doctor have remained with her. Wafting into her room is the cheerful noise of the Paris Carnival. Violetta thinks of her love and with a pained heart bids farewell to life. Suddenly, an unexpected visitor arrives. It is Alfredo, whose father has finally told him the entire truth. Violetta happily embraces the man she adores, but then collapses exhausted back into the bed. The elder Germont also arrives on his son's heels to express his gratitude to the noble-spirited woman. Father and son are shocked to see that they have arrived too late: Violetta dies in the arms of her love.