I just watched a really good La Traviata (It’s Netrebko and Villazon, Vienna Philharmonic, Carlo Rizzi, Salzburg 05). Netrebko is really in her element with this kind of thing.
This is one of those productions that is obvious-weird. You know, not ‘what the fuck are those kouroi doing in the finale’ weird, but just abstract enough that none of the symbolism requires much thought.
Also, ever notice how Violetta gets Lady Dedlock’ed? Yes, there is a connection between Traviata and Dickens’s Bleak House: there is a fallen woman who everyone has realized is still really rather a good person, and the people who ought to love her still do, but, well, we can’t have this kind of thing work out so of course she dies. Fun! But great music. (Verdi, I mean, not Dickens. I imagine Dickens would have had rather awful taste in music.)