This just in: Violetta's love life deteriorates

IMAGINE VERDI'S Violetta swooning live on the eveningnews, with the bells of Notre Dame clanging in the background to signal her tragic death.

French and Italian state television companies are backing a Fr65m (pounds 6m) production of La Traviata that will feature an Italian newsreader following Violetta's love affair with Alfredo from the top of the Eiffel Tower. The performance, to be conducted by Zubin Mehta, will be broadcast live next June to as many as 1.5 billion people in 125 countries.

The show's producers hope it will bring emotion and immediacy to the love story. "It'll be an Italian soap opera, unfolding before viewers' eyes," the Italian producer Andrea Andermann said. Widely regarded as one of Verdi's best operas, La Traviata is the story of a young man smitten by a beautiful but tubercular courtesan. Its scathing treatment of contemporary figures caused a scandal when it was first performed in 1853, forcing Verdi to set the story 100 years earlier. (AP)