Cinema: Grand Passions

LA TRAVIATA

Directed by Franco Zeffirelli

Musically, Giuseppe Verdi's opera La Traviata begins at the end, and so does Franco Zeffirelli's new film. The attenuated strains of the prelude depict not the high spirits and even higher passions of the heroine's demimonde, but the lonely, last-act gasps of a woman dying of consumption; the camera prowls through her empty apartment like a would-be lover who never got the bad news. Suddenly there is a blast of trumpets and the scene is abruptly transformed, flashed back to a glittering party. As the music gathers...

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