Violetta, a prostitute, after having fallen in love with Alfredo and given up her “work,” is pressured by Alfredo’s father to break up her relationship because Alfredo’s sister cannot make a good marriage because of Violetta’s reputation. She reluctantly does end her relationship, to save Alfredo’s family’s honor, but does not let Alfredo know why. Alfredo thinks she is a cold and heartless woman and painfully embarrasses her in front of a crowd at a party.
In this concluding act of La Traviata, Violetta has just received a letter from Alfredo’s father who deeply apologizes for his behavior and shares that he has told Alfredo the truth and that Violetta is still deeply in love with him. Alfredo is on his way to see her. Of course, she is terribly sick (consumption) and will soon die (in fact in Alfredo’s arms once he gets there).
The aria, “Addio del Passato,” (above sung by Renee Fleming) is Violetta’s acknowledgement that this reconciliation is all too late, that “all is finished.” The joys and sorrows will soon be over. No tears or flowers for her grave. No cross with a name that will cover her bones. The lyrics are below. Or tutti fini.
If I were an opera singer, this would be the aria I would want to sing.
Addio, del passato bei sogni ridenti, Farewell past, happy dreams of days gone bye; Le rose del volto già son pallenti; The roses in my cheeks already are faded. L'amore d'Alfredo pur esso mi manca, Even Alfredo's love is lacking, Conforto, sostegno dell'anima stanca To comfort and uphold my weary spirit. Ah, della traviata sorridi al desio; Oh, comfort, sustain a tired soul, A lei, deh, perdona; tu accoglila, o Dio, And may God pardon and make her his own! Or tutto finì. Ah, all is finished Le gioie, i dolori tra poco avran fine, The joys, the sorrows will be soon over, La tomba ai mortali di tutto è confine! The tomb confines all mortals! Non lagrima o fiore avrà la mia fossa, Neither tears or flowers will my grave have, Non croce col nome che copra quest'ossa! No cross with a name that covers my bones! Ah, della traviata sorridi al desio; Oh, comfort, sustain a tired soul, A lei, deh, perdona; tu accoglila, o Dio, And may God pardon and make her his own! Or tutto finì. Ah, all is finished. Translation by Jon Loy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Happy 200th Birthday, Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) !