Opera Scotland

Luisa Miller

Music
Giuseppe Verdi (born Busseto, 10 October 1813; died Milan, 27 January 1901)

Text
Salvatore Cammarano.

Source
Play Kabale und Liebe (1784) by Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805).

Premières
First performance: Naples (Teatro San Carlo), 8 December 1849.
First UK performance: London (Her Majesty’s Theatre, Haymarket), 3 June 1858.
First performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Alhambra Theatre), 5 April 1960.
Scottish Opera première: N/A.

Background
Verdi was keen to adapt this work by Schiller by keeping as close to the original as possible. However the commission was for Naples, where it was recognised certain compromises would be required in order to please the censors. In spite of this the opera was very successful at its premiere, and always seems to work well in the theatre. Quite why it has been less popular than Verdi’s acknowledged masterworks is difficult to say, but most of the major houses revive it regularly. It was particularly appropriate that it should have been the Naples company that brought it to Edinburgh in 1963, and the Royal Opera also performed it after the opening of the Edinburgh Festival Theatre.

Characters
Miller, a retired soldier (baritone)
Luisa, his daughter (soprano)
Count Walter (bass)
Rodolfo, his son (tenor)
Federica of Ostheim, the Count’s niece (mezzo-soprano)
Wurm, the Count’s henchman (bass)
Laura, a peasant girl (mezzo-soprano)

Plot Summary
Luisa lives with her father in a village in the Tyrol. She loves a local peasant, Carlo, but her father has a sense of foreboding. This is confirmed when he is approached by Wurm, who also loves Luisa, but is despised by her. According to Wurm, Carlo is not a peasant, but Rodolfo, son of Count Walter. The Count has secretly arranged for Rodolfo to marry his cousin, the recently widowed Duchess Federica. She grew up with Rodolfo, has loved him since childhood, and has now arrived for her marriage. But Rodolfo tells her he now loves another, and when Luisa and her father arrive he confirms his true identity. He threatens his father with the idea that he will reveal that the Count is a usurper, having murdered his predecessor. Miller is imprisoned, and Wurm persuades Luisa that to save her father she must repudiate her relationship with Rodolfo. Reluctantly she writes a letter to this effect which Wurm and the Count permit Rodolfo to read. Luisa decides on suicide, so when Rodolfo comes to her home she happily drinks the poison he offers. Rodolfo takes it as well, and Luisa then reveals that she only wrote the letter under duress and as dictated by Wurm. The others now arrive to find Luisa and Rodolfo both dying, but Rodolfo kills Wurm before he expires.

The Cast

Count Walter
 
Federica d' Ostheim
 Rodolfo's cousin
Laura
 a peasant girl
Luisa
 Miller's daughter
Miller
 a retired soldier
Peasant
 
Rodolfo
 son of Count Walter
Wurm
 Count Walter's henchman

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