MILAN, Italy, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- For the first time the Milan opera house La Scala on Saturday opened the season with "La Traviata" to conclude its bicentennial celebrations of Giuseppe Verdi's birth.
Though "La Traviata" ("The Fallen Woman" in Italian) is nowadays one of the most popular operas in the world, for a long time it has been considered too touch on immoral topics and boycotted.
La Scala, whose 2013-14 season includes three operas by Verdi in honor of the celebration of his birth on Oct. 10, 1813, staged the work in a particularly modernized version directed by Italian conductor Daniele Gatti.
Commenting on the opener, the general manager and artistic director of La Scala Theater's Foundation, French Stephane Lissner, said that a "taboo" had dropped.
"For the first time La Scala is staging La Traviata to open the season," Lissner was quoted as saying by Milan-based Il Giorno newspaper.
The artistic director described German soprano Diana Damrau, who played the role of Violetta, as "a unique interpreter, a talent, a voice, an exceptional actress."
Lissner, who will leave next year to take over at Paris Opera, also stressed the message he wanted to put out with Saturday's La Traviata was "look to the future."
The misfortunes of Violetta and Alfredo are still associated with the late diva Maria Callas, who interpreted La Traviata more than 60 times in her career, but Saturday's performers said they did not feel the pressure.
Russian producer Dimitri Tcherniakov told Rai state television his work was especially about exploring the human relation with love and sentiment.
Like every year, political leaders and culture figures attended the gala event at the famous music temple.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, fashion designer Giorgio Armani and Fiat Chairman John Elkann were among the personalities at the opener.
Before raising the curtain, La Scala dedicated a minute of silence to honor Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at 95. The entire audience broke out in applause and rose for a minute to pay respects to the late South African president.