A Story of Opera

My friend Pete, heartbroken, told me a story of opera and how he lost his friend who he loved. I found it so moving that I asked if I could write it here. He agreed.

His friend, Emerson, was very ill and would soon pass away. Pete was at home and wanted to do something to remember Emerson. He remembered that Emerson had gone to Vienna, where he saw his last opera, La Traviata. He looked through his music archives, found it and put it on. He realised that he didn’t know much about the story, so he read about it.

As Pete told me this, I also realised that I didn’t know much about La Traviata, so I also read about it. Here is the story, in a summarised version.

The story of La Traviata, by Guiseppe Verdi, begins when Violetta, a courtesan, throws a party to celebrate her recovery from an illness. One of her friends, a Count, brings his friend, Alfredo, who has long secretly admired Violetta. At that time Violetta has another lover, a Baron. But something in Alfredo strikes her interest and she agrees let him visit her again. Violetta wonders if Alfredo could be the love of her life.

After months pass, Alfredo does become the love of her life. They live happily in the countryside outside of Paris. She sells all her horses and carriages to support her countryside life.

Alfredo’s father demands that she breaks her relationship with Alfredo, because he reputation threatens his daughter’s engagement. She responds that she cannot. However in the end she sacrifices herself and ends the relationship. Alfredo thinks the Baron is behind all this and that Violetta loves the Baron once again.

Violetta is once again grave with her illness, tuberculosis. She receives a letter from Alfredo’s father telling him that he informed his son of her sacrifice for his sister. He writes that he is sending Alfredo to her to ask of her forgiveness.

Alfredo arrives. But it is too late as her time is up. The opera ends with a final aria by Violetta on her deathbed. She sings: Farewell happy dreams of the past – now it is all over.

Pete told me that as the week wore on he knew Emerson was getting worse. He rang a friend who lived close-by to E and asked her to please play La Traviata for Emerson. Two and a half hours later, she rang Pete back, voice quavering. She had put on La Traviata. A voice or something told her to put on the third act, so she did. Emerson took three short breaths and passed away during the final aria.

We do not think this was a coincidence. This was a final act of beauty.

Thank you for reading.

Note: image taken from Wikipedia.

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  1. Sue 2014-11-09 at 02:24

    Thank you for sharing this, very moving. I am an opera fool . . . . I can’t tell you how many operas I attended and sat “standing room only” in Vienna over 20 years ago . . . Vienna is truly the place to see opera!

  2. Sunny 2014-11-09 at 13:32

    Aww that is so sad 🙁 So sorry to hear about Pete’s friend.

  3. pianolearner 2014-11-09 at 19:14

    I can’t think of a ‘good’ way to go, but I would say that listening to music that you love is perhaps one that qualifies.

    1. Sofia 2014-11-09 at 19:19

      I agree. I used to play this beautiful romance by Robert Schumann: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ny5gNCTZpk0
      I haven’t played it in a while, I’ll have to find the score sheet and play again. Anyway… it is rumoured that when his wife, Clara Schumann, was on her deathbed she called her nephew and asked him to play this piece so that it would be the last thing she would hear. I can understand, I think it is so beautiful.

    2. Sofia 2014-11-09 at 19:23

      PS I can photocopy and send you the sheets if you want,.. it’s quite hard because it has sharps everywhere and the melody is in the most weirdest non-apparent notes (typical Schumann).

  4. Dalo 2013 2014-11-10 at 05:31

    Beautiful story, and wish the best to Pete. Must be sad, and while no expert with opera, I have seen La Traviata several times ~ just a beautiful work.

  5. miwa theresa 2014-11-10 at 11:23

    What a beautiful story… So moving. Thank you for sharing, Sofia.

  6. Sandra Blackburn Adkins 2014-11-11 at 12:33

    My name is Sandra Adkins. I went to school with Emerson Skeens when we were teenagers. I met Emerson in our Freshmen year. We became close friends. When I got married, we went our separate ways. I moved to Ky. and he went on to fulfill his dreams. I lost touch with him in 1967. I loved him as a best friend. I was never into opera, but, that was a beautiful story Thank you, Pete, for letting the public know Emerson’s Dreams and God Bless.

    1. Sofia 2014-11-16 at 18:42

      Hi Sandra, thanks for telling me about your friendship with him. After having lost touch for a long time it must be sad to hear about this. God bless.

  7. Guillermina Stover 2014-11-13 at 04:18

    Wow. Romance for the ages, Verdi style…and it continues in “real” life…

  8. Thomas Sykes 2015-03-17 at 00:41

    I knew Emerson for 50 years. I loved him Dearly. We were the best of Friends. We pissed one another off; often; however; we brought out the Best in one another too Rest his Sweet Soul in Peace and Love. He touched my soul; as no other man ever has. Our friendship is everlasting.


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