Act I. Scene 1
In a salon in the house of Violetta, a courtesan is greeting guests as they arrive for her party. She has recently come into better health and decided to host a party in celebration. Among the guests is Alfredo Germont, a young bourgeois from a provincial family who came to Paris. He confesses that the moment he saw Violetta, he was fascinated by her beauty and intelligence with sincere love.
Alfredo is asked to give a toast, he agrees to sing a brindisi – a drinking song – the hymn of love and joy of life. From the next room, the sound of the orchestra is heard and the guests move there to dance.
Violetta suddenly almost faints and Alfredo stays with her. He asks Violetta to live a more quiet life with him and sincerely declares his love for her. At first she treats him with indifference, trying to reject him. He is about to leave when she gives him camellias. She promises to meet him the next day. When the guests depart, Violetta wonders how deeply Alfredo has affected her. She muses that he might be the one for her. For the first time she was faced with a truly feelings in her shiny and frivolous life, a mutual love lights up in her heart.
Act II, Scene 2.
Violetta and Alfredo have been happily living together in a peaceful country house outside Paris. Here she has completely abandoned her former life. Annina, the maid, arrives and, when questioned by Alfredo, tells him that she has been to Paris in order to sell off Violetta’s possessions so they can continue to meet their expenses in a country lifestyle. He stunned and humiliated by his inability to support her, and he leaves for Paris to raise some money. Meanwhile, Violetta receives an invitation to a ball organized by her friend Flora, but she puts it aside.
In Alfredo’s absence, his father Giorgio Germont arrives, hoping to persuade Violetta to leave his son, lest scandal ruin the family, and thereby the marital hopes of Alfredo’s sister. She responds that she cannot end the relationship because the love for Alfred - her only joy. Moreover, she would not live long, Violetta is terminally ill.
As she is writing a letter to Alfredo, he enters. Violetta can barely control her sadness and tears, she tells him of her unconditional love. After Violetta rushed out and set off for Paris, the servant brings the farewell letter. Alfredo is devastated. Giorgio returns and attempts to comfort his son, reminding him to come back to Provence. But, when Alfredo discovers Flora's invitation, he assumes that she left him to go back to the high life. He determines to confront Violetta at the party. Giorgio tries to stop Alfredo, but his attempts are in vain. Alfredo is intent on travelling to Paris to revenge himself on Violetta.
Flora’s Masked Ball in Paris. Alfredo arrives and heads to the gaming tables. Violetta enters with Baron Douphol, and Flora happily greets her. Violetta is suffering in separation and upon seeing Alfredo, senses impending disaster. Fearing that Baron will become angry and challenge Alfredo to a duel, she asks him to leave the party. Following an angry confrontation, Alfredo throws the money at her feet in full view of everyone to “pay” her for her services.
Act III, Scene 4.
Violetta is alone and close to death, fully aware that all hope is gone, even if the doctors say otherwise. The tuberculosis almost completely consumed her. Through her illness all her friends have abandoned her, and she is now penniless.
Violetta asks Annina how much money is left, instructing her to distribute half to the poor. She rereads a letter from Germont: announces that he has informed Alfredo of the sacrifice she has made for him; and he is returning to see her as quickly as possible to ask for her forgiveness and pledging eternal love. Annina brings news that Alfredo is back.
Father and son arrive. The lovers dream of their future together and suggest that they leave Paris. But it is too late: she knows her time is up. Violetta cannot believe that she must die just when happiness is within her grasp. Alfredo's father enters, regretting what he has done. Germont apologizes for his interference.
Suddenly, a surge of energy rushes through Violetta's body and joyfully, Violetta whispers that the pain has stopped. A moment later, she dies in Alfredo's arms.