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New Thinking

MARIA NOCKIN experiences an
updated version of Verdi's 'La Traviata'

 

When Alphonsine Rose Plessis was born in a small village in Normandy on 15 January 1824, no one would have thought that within two decades she would have become one of the most famous women in France. She had a very poor start in life. Her mother left the family when Alphonsine was still a child. Her father, a violent drunk, put the young girl to work, first as a beggar and later as a prostitute.

Alexandra Deshorties as Violetta and Sean Panikkar as Alfredo in Arizona Opera's 'La Traviata'. Photo © 2008 Scott Humbert
Alexandra Deshorties as Violetta and Sean Panikkar as Alfredo in Arizona Opera's 'La Traviata'. Photo © 2008 Scott Humbert

Eventually, he sent the girl to live with relatives in Paris who apprenticed her to a laundress. Alphonsine had other ideas, however, and she began to frequent dances where she hoped to meet a man who could afford keep her in style as a mistress. One evening, she made the acquaintance of Antoine Agénor, a young, lively, talented and very rich duke who set her up in a beautiful home and arranged for his grandmother to teach her to read.

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Copyright © 4 May 2008 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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