Opera Scotland

Forza del Destino The Force of Destiny; Destiny; The Power of Fate

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

Text
Francesco Maria Piave, with revisions by Antonio Ghislanzoni.

Source
Drama Don Álvaro, o La fuerza de sino (1835) by Ángel de Saavedra, Duque de Rivas (1791-1865).

Premières
First performance: St Petersburg (Imperial Theatre), 22 November 1862.
Revised version: Milan (Teatro alla Scala), 27 February 1869
First UK performance: London (Her Majesty’s Theatre), 22 June 1867.
First performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Grand Theatre), 14 March 1910.
Scottish Opera première: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 13 February 1990.

Background
La forza del destino caused Verdi a few problems, even though it arose from a prestigious commission from the Russian Imperial Theatre. The source play is notoriously loose in its structure – excused because it was one of the leading romantic dramas of its day. To this Verdi added extracts from a Schiller drama, Wallenstein’s Camp, for the battlefield scenes. The entire opera is unusual in that it manages to sustain a sense of great hysteria and obsession throughout its length, somehow making the constant succession of coincidences more credible. On its premiere the Russians seem to have found the piece quite acceptable, but for the Milan production, the end was seen as unsuitably morbid, so the number of deaths was reduced by one – Alvaro being forced instead to endure his life of misery.

Main Characters
Marquis of Calatrava (bass)
Donna Leonora di Vargas (soprano)
Don Alvaro, a Peruvian nobleman (tenor)
Don Carlo di Vargas, Leonora’s brother (baritone)
Preziosilla, a gypsy (mezzo-soprano)
Melitone, a Franciscan friar (baritone)
Father Superior (bass)

Plot Summary
At night, Leonora is about to elope with her lover Alvaro when her father disturbs them. Alvaro drops his pistol to the floor in submission, but by accident it discharges and the Marquis is killed. The couple flee, but Leonora feels unable to stay with her lover. They separate. Some time later, at an inn in the mountains, Leonora’s brother, obsessed with revenge and masquerading as a student, is on Leonora’s trail. She escapes from the inn disguised as a boy, and goes to a monastery, where she persuades the Superior to let her live in a remote cell as a hermit. The scene changes to the vicinity of a battlefield. Alvaro, believing Leonora dead, has joined the army, and in battle saved Carlo’s life. In giving each other false names, they become close friends. Eventually, when Alvaro is himself wounded, Carlo discovers who he is, and when they are prevented from fighting, Alvaro decides to take holy orders. Several years later, Carlo tracks Alvaro down to his monastery, which happens to be the same one visited by Leonora. Alvaro accepts Carlo’s challenge, and they run off into the hills to fight. When Alvaro wounds Carlo he summons help from the nearby hermit, and Carlo then stabs his sister before expiring himself. Alvaro is persuaded by the Superior to live on (in the Russian original he hurls himself from a precipice in a dramatic final storm scene).

The Cast

Alcalde
 Mayor
Curra
 Leonora's maid
Don Alvaro
 a Peruvian nobleman
Don Carlo di Vargas
 
Donna Leonora di Vargas
 
Marchese di Calatrava
 a Marquis, father of Leonora and Carlo
Melitone
 a Franciscan friar
Padre Guardiano
 Franciscan Father Superior
Pedlar
 
Preziosilla
 a gypsy
Surgeon
 
Trabuco
 a muleteer

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