Beaton's Met Traviata Revisited

For the Met's legendary 1966 season, Cecil Beaton was commisioned to design the sets and costumes for Alfred Lunt's new staging of La traviata. The costumes were inspired by the evocative silhouette of 1860s Paris, of the age of Réjane, of the era of the demi-monde. Beaton remarked at the time that he "wanted the colors to have a gold light, dark but sparkling, and scintillating." Violetta's first-act gown, a showstopper in rich brocade, above, captures the courtesan's imperious coquettishness superbly; while the ballgown, below, presumably the one Mlle. V wears in the second scene of the second act, showcases the heroine's killer allure and subtle power to stunning effect. The Violetta of that glittering production, by the way, was the stunningly beautiful Anna Moffo, whose vocal and physical fragility made her one of that century's most visually alluring and compelling la dame aux camélias.