THE highly acclaimed Russian State Opera makes a welcome return to our area with a Verdi masterpiece.

One of the greatest of the Italian composer’s operas, La Traviata is a love story shrouded in sacrifice and misunderstanding.

Set to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave and based on La Dame aux Camelias, a play adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas, the Younger, Giuseppe Verdi brings the beguiling splendour and gaiety of mid-19th century Parisian life to the stage.

The title La Traviata literally means the Fallen Woman, or perhaps more figuratively, the Woman Who Strayed and it recounts Dumas’ true-life affair with the beautiful, Marie Duplessis.

La Traviata in Verdi’s opera is a courtesan called Violetta whose life is a round of endless parties until a young nobleman, Alfredo Germont, convinces her to live in the country with him.

The couple are deeply in love and all is blissful contentment until Alfredo’s father arrives and tells Violetta the affair is threatening the family’s honour. Desperate to save Alfredo from disgrace, Violetta leaves their rural idyll and returns to Paris and into the arms of another.

This new production follows the Russian State Opera’s acclaimed tour of Rigoletto earlier in the year and will see the internationally-renowned troupe criss-crossing the UK again, visiting 30 venues which this time will include in our county the Princes Theatre in Clacton and the Towngate Theatre in Basildon.

The company behind the tour, Amande Concerts, specialises in promoting Russian culture.

It works exclusively with established theatres in the Russian Federation to bring world class ballet and opera to the UK. These theatres have many years of experience and, most importantly, have an established stable of directors and leaders who have graduated from the best artistic institutions in Russia and the former Soviet Union.

La Traviata, Princes Theatre, Station Road, Clacton. September 19. £29.50, £27.50 concessions. 01255 686633. princes-theatre.

Also at the Towngate Theatre, St Martin’s Square, Basildon. September 22. 7.30pm. £30, £28 concessions. 01268 465465.