One interval or two in Traviata?

Yannick Nézet-Séguin has told the parish newspaperb that he fought long and hard to have the second intermission restored in the upcoming Met production of La Traviata.

It’s certainly a break for the busy conductor and a boost for bar takings.

But what about the drama? Doesn’t it disrupt the tension?

Or is it for all those ‘loyal subscribers’ who require two comfort breaks?

Your thoughts?

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  • Verdi wrote three acts, so two intervals it is. (Didn’t some places also split act 2 in the bad old days???)

  • It allows the finale of Act 2 to end on a real thunder, and allows tension to fall back before the much more subdued act 3. Why not?

  • The absurdly lengthy Met intermissions are growing ever more, well, absurd and lengthy. In this case they might as well, though, what with a Violetta with a vocetta (and proper musical style and technique) in tatters. On another note, has YN-S agitated yet for removing the amplification system at his new home? Although they will need it for Damrau, a classic microphone enabled fraud.

      • And the Earth is flat. If you don’t believe the Met (and other theaters) has an amplification system installed for the benefit of puny voices, I have a long intermission to sell you.

  • He said in his interview in the New York Times that it was to enable the singers to rest their voices. Sounds good to me.

  • I’m still trying to figure out why they replaced the Willy Decker production, which wasn’t that old, and quite popular my all accounts. But yes, it does help bar sales and probably gives singers’ voices a break as YNS maintains.

  • I usually like the post-Riesling half better. But two intermissions in a comparatively short opera, I don’t know.

    The “three acts => two intervals” argument would certainly boost bar sales and the audience’s participation in the performance, especially on french opera nights.

  • More concessions income.

    Let’s just hope the musical and productions teams have done their job with as much thought.

  • I agree with this decision. I wish the Met would perform La Traviata uncut, as Verdi intended.
    The traditional cuts make me crazy.

  • Boring second intermissions (and sometimes third ones — see Aida and Manon in the old days) have long been a Met peculiarity. It’s been justified with “giving the singers a chance to rest their voices”, yet all over the rest of the world, singers do most of the repertoire with one intermission and let the audience out at more userfriendly hours— so why do they need to rest at the Met? One of the few good things Gelb has done is to slowly do away with this and it’s sad to see this custom (with the same spurious justification) creep back into the routine.

  • Act 2 scenes 1 and two are a unit insofar as they take place the same day/evening, with a tight plot connection. Acts 1 and 3 take place some time earlier/later respectively. The composers often knew how to organise acts and scenes for dramatic sense.

  • There are basically four major sections:

    (1) Violetta’s party.
    (2) At Violetta’s country villa, several months after (1).
    (3) Flora’s party, later the same evening after (2).
    (4) Violetta’s apartment in Paris, several months after (3).

    It just seems weird to me, to have a single interval, and to have it between (2) and (3), so that the two “halves” are themselves notionally only a couple of hours apart but each includes a several-months gap in the middle, during the scene change.

    Whereas with two intervals, each interval represents that gap of several months in the action: and the two halves of Act 2, as the longest and central act, represent the action that takes place on the same day, the afternoon at Violetta’s villa and the evening at Flora’s party.

    It strikes me as simply wrong to have the only interval at the point which has the smallest actual notional break in the action.

  • Cut the ballet and play it as one act opera. Still much shorter running time than Dutchman and works much better as a theater. Many have done it including Konwitschny and it’s by far more interesting than any three act production

  • Verdi intended two intervals to mark two lapses in time: the first (after Act 1) indicating Violetta and Alfredo’s happy co-existence in the country, the second (after two scenes of Act 2, which are consecutive time-wise) to allow for the duel, Alfredo’s journey abroad and subsequent return, as explained in Germont’s letter. Verdi’s structure works dramatically – bar sales or not – and he probably knew best…

  • Many years ago (1995) I attended “Makropulos Case” ( in English, Jessie Norman) in the Met; 1h35 opera, two 35 min intermissions.. A very short opera turned into a long evening. One intermission is enough for all but the longest operas.

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