Opera Scotland

Giovanna d'Arco Joan of Arc

Source

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

Text

Temistocle Solera

Source

Play Die Jungfrau von Orleans (1801) by Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805).

 

Premières

First performance: Milan (Teatro alla Scala), 15 February 1845.

First UK performance: London (Royal Academy of Music), 23 May 1966.

First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Festival Theatre), 22 August 1998 (concert).

Scottish Opera première: N/A.

 

Background

It has to be said that Solera’s adaptation does little credit to Schiller, indeed edits out vast chunks of the original, reducing the cast of solo roles to a meagre handful, and generally making a nonsense of the plot, particularly in its bizarre treatment of Joan’s father. In spite of this, some of the music Verdi composed for Joan is quite beautiful, and there are several sections where the armies have jolly marches and choruses which are full of energy, positively oozing vulgarity. In spite of the success of his early operas at La Scala, this was the last Verdi premiere to be staged there until the revised version of Simon Boccanegra in 1881. It was not long since Scottish Opera’s contribution to the Festival had been a staging of Verdi’s immediately preceding opera, I due Foscari, so this performance with the Scottish Opera Orchestra at least gave Richard Armstrong the opportunity to try out another early Verdi piece he had not done before.

 

Characters

Giovanna, Joan of Arc (soprano)

Giacomo, Joan’s father (baritone)

Carlo, King Charles VII of France (tenor)

Delil (tenor)

Talbot (bass)

 

Plot Summary

The French are on the verge of defeat against the English army. King Charles has a dream as a result of which he visits a holy sanctuary where he meets Joan, a character who had appeared in the dream. She convinces him that France will be victorious. She also hears voices which convince her that she loves Charles, though her father is less sympathetic – he is convinced that her powers are the result of demonic possession, and he considers it his duty to allow her to be taken by the English. After the coronation of Charles, Joan’s father takes her away, considering it his duty to save her immortal soul by having her burned at the stake. In captivity she resorts to prayer, which lets her father realize his error. He then helps her to escape to rejoin the French army. Although she again leads them to victory, she is mortally wounded in the process, and dies on the battlefield.

The Cast

Carlo
 Charles VII, King of France
Delil
 
Giacomo
 Joan's father
Giovanna
 Joan of Arc
Talbot
 

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