THE love story that gripped Paris is set to take centre stage at Sunderland Empire when Opera and Ballet International presents Ellen Kent’s Opera Festival opening with Verdi’s La Traviata on Friday, January 26, 2018.

What's On team up with Sunderland Empire to give one lucky reader the chance to enjoy a majestic evening of opulent opera along with a souvenir programme and a copy of Alexandre Dumas' La Dame aux Camellias.

La Traviata is Verdi’s outstanding interpretation of one of the most popular love stories of the 19th Century, La Dame aux Camelias by Alexander Dumas, a tragic tale of searing passion and memorable music.

This operatic version tells the romantic story about the love and life of the courtesan, Violetta. Based on a true story, it tells of the passionate consumptive Violetta and her doomed love for the aristocratic Alfredo. There are many echoes of Verdi’s own life in Traviata and he threw himself into the music. This was also Verdi’s venture into operatic realism as was Rigoletto, rejecting distant historical settings. The highlights include the Brindisi, the best known drinking song in opera, the duet Un Di Felice and the haunting aria Addio Del Passato.

One of the world’s most popular operas, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly then takes centre stage on Saturday, January 27 and tells the heart-breaking story of the beautiful young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American naval lieutenant – with dramatic results. Highlights include the melodic Humming Chorus, the moving aria One Fine Day and the unforgettable Love Duet.

Both productions will be sung in Italian with English surtitles and cast subject to change.

To enter our competition, simply tell us who composed La Traviata.

  • Send your entries on a postcard/sealed envelope to La Traviata Competition, The Northern Echo, PO Box 14, Priestgate, Darlington, DL1 1NF, to reach us to later than 5pm on Monday, December 4.

The winner will receive one pair of tickets to the performance of La Traviata on Friday 26 January 2017 (7.30pm) at Sunderland Empire, a copy of the Alexandre Dumas' La Dame aux Camellias book and a souvenir programme. Tickets are non-transferable and no monetary value will be given.

  • Tickets available from the Box Office on High Street West, via the ticket centre 0844 871 3022* or *calls cost 7p per minute plus standard network charges. Booking and transaction fees may apply to telephone and online bookings.