Opera Scotland

Attila

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

Text
Temistocle Solera, amended by Francesco Maria Piave.

Source
German drama Attila, König der Hunnen (1808) by Zacharias Werner.

Premières
First performance: Venice (Teatro La Fenice), 17 March 1846.
First UK performance: London (Her Majesty’s Theatre, Haymarket), 14 March 1848.
First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (King’s Theatre), 28 August 1972.
Scottish Opera première: N/A.

Background
Given the reputation Attila has in European culture as a force for destruction, who killed and looted wherever he went, it perhaps seems strange that in this operatic treatment he is the only remotely sympathetic character among the principals. The Italians are portrayed as a thoroughly unpleasant and untrustworthy bunch. Another point of interest is that there is a chorus of hermits, a strange phenomenon in a vocation which reputedly preferred a life of solitude. Sadler’s Wells staged the opera in 1963, but the production did not tour to Scotland. The Teatro Massimo of Palermo gave the Edinburgh Festival performances in 1972, with only modest success. The soprano was ill and there were difficulties with a replacement, and the tenor was vocally out of sorts. However the title role was well taken by Ruggiero Raimondi, and Ezio was given a notable performance by Renato Bruson, in his British debut.

Main Characters
Attila, King of the Huns (bass)
Ezio, a Roman general (baritone)
Odabella, daughter of the Lord of Aquileia (soprano)
Foresto, a knight of Aquileia (tenor)
Uldino, Attila’s Breton slave (tenor)
Pope Leone (bass)

Plot Summary
Attila’s troops celebrate the conquest of the city of Aquileia, but Attila complains that in spite of his order that the women be put to the sword, some have been spared. The leader of those women, Odabella, points out that their women believe in fighting alongside the men. Attila is impressed, and gives her his sword. However, she is determined to use it to kill him. Ezio arrives for a conference, in which he offers Attila the rest of the world if he will just leave him to govern Italy. The Hun is less impressed by this. Foresto, another survivor, leads the natives in plans to start another town, which will develop into Venice. Odabella tells him of her plan to kill the Hun. Attila, meanwhile, wakes from a dream in which an old man warned him not to continue his march on Rome. He then finds that the Pope himself has arrived in an attempt to prevent him moving south. Ezio and Foresto plan their next step, which is to have Attila poisoned at a banquet. However Odabella reveals the plot to him. To reward her for this loyalty, Attila offers to marry her, but it is just after the wedding ceremony that Odabella finally stabs him.

The Cast

Attila
 King of the Huns
Ezio
 a Roman general
Foresto
 a knight of Aquileia
Leone
 Pope Leo I
Odabella
 daughter of the Lord of Aquileia
Uldino
 Attila's Breton slave

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2017

Site by SiteBuddha