Opera South East are performing Verdi’s La Traviata this weekend (April 12th-13th)with the Sussex Concert Orchestra at Hastings White Rock Theatre. The Director is Fraser Grant and the Conductor is Kenneth Roberts.

Director’s Notes on Plot and Meaning

The basic premise of our Traviata is very simple. We begin at the end and end where we began.

The character of Violetta Valerie is based largely on the real life courtesan Marie Duplessis, who was the mistress of many prominent men, including Alexandre Dumas fils, who made her the central figure of his novel ‘La Dame Aux Camelias’, which inspired this opera.

Although Duplessis lived a rich and extravagant life, she died in poverty and most of her belongings were auctioned off to pay her debts and funeral expenses.

This fact haunted me; the idea that our life is just a series of collecting and passing on: lovers, possessions, ideas and life. Almost nothing is sacred. The one thing we have and can hold onto is our memories. So this production is one long memory. As Violetta enters the final stage of her illness, and her belongings are being auctioned off, taken away, sold on to pay for the life she is about to say farewell to forever, certain small objects and possessions trigger the intense memories of the final 7 months of her life. The months where she finally found something to live for.

I chose to set the piece in the lead up to World War 1 because I felt this echoed Violetta’s life. Paris is having its last hurrah before it is plunged into darkness and the world is changed forever. People are partying hard before the inevitable happens. The ‘gay old world’ is about to give way to something much more modern, cynical and uneasy.


Opera South East is delighted the exciting young Australian soprano, Kristy Swift (who performed with OSE last year) is returning to perform the role of Violetta. Amongst the ten other principal roles, Kristy will be joined by her fellow countryman, David Woloszko who is also returning to perform the role of her doctor. Many other principals have returned to us this year but we are also joined by the new talent of Harry Kersley, Arthur Coomber and Oscar Smith.

Opera South East

This production is the 56th performed at the White Rock Theatre since 1983. OSE have performed La Traviata before under three different Directors (1986, 1996 and 2004). Two weeks ago (31 March) OSE were awarded South-East Region ‘Best Opera, 2018’ for a production of Engine Onegin by NODA, the National Operatic and Dramatic Association. OSE have been a charity for 31 years.

Check out OSE’s website for more details and notice of future productions. https://www.operasoutheast.org.uk/next-production.html

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