Opera Scotland

Cid Le Cid; The Cid

Music

Jules Massenet (born Montaud, St Etienne, 12 May 1842; died Paris, 13 August 1912.

Text

Adolphe-Philippe d'Ennery, Louis Gallet and Edouard Blau.

Source

Drama Le Cid (1637) by Pierre Corneille (1606-1684).

 

Premières

First Performance: Paris (Opéra), 30 November 1885.

First Performance in UK: Edinburgh (Royal Lyceum Theatre), 28 March 1932.

First Performance in Scotland: As above.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.

 

Background

Le Cid is based on a great classic of French drama, and was composed by Massenet for the Paris Opéra. It is therefore designed on a grand scale, complete with impressive ceremonial scenes and ballet. It is the delightfully tuneful Spanish-themed ballet music which has survived to have an independent life in concert halls, while the complete opera remains almost unknown.

The plot is loosely based on characters from Spanish history, Rodrigo Dïaz de Bivar (c1030-1099) and his wife Ximena. Rodrigo was known as El Cid or Seyd - the lord. He was a famous warrior, playing a leading role in conflicts between various Castilian factions as well as betweeen Castile and the Moors, during which he frequently seems to have swapped sides.

 

Main Characters

Rodrigue, Le Cid (tenor)

Don Diègue, his father (bass)

Comte de Gormas (bass)

Chimène, his daughter (mezzo-soprano)

King of Castile (baritone)

The Infanta, his daughter (soprano)

 

Plot Summary

Rodrigue is a national hero, and about to be knighted by the king. Chimène and Rodrigue are also planning to marry. The Infanta loves Rodrigue, but knowing she can only marry royalty, she reassures Chimène that she is not a rival. The King appoints the elderly Don Diego to be his son's guardian, which infuriates Count Gormas, who had been expecting the appointment.  He and Diego are involved in a scuffle in which the latter, a frail old man, is easily overcome. He is mocked by the Count and, feeling humiliated, persuades his son to avenge the insult. In the duel that follows, Rodrigue mortally wounds Gormas. Chimène is horrified that her father has been killed by the man she loves. At court she demands that he be executed. Diego explains why the fight took place, and opinions are divided over this question of honour. At this point word comes that the Moors have declared war, and it is agreed that Rodrigue's punishment will be deferred until after he has led the Spaniards to victory. When he visits Chimène to bid her farewell she confesses that she still loves him, but that duty prevents her following her own wishes, but that she will pardon him if he is victorious. On the eve of battle, the Spaniards are apprehensive, being significantly outnumbered. But Rodrigue has a vision of St James which encourages him to be positive. At court, initial reports suggest that Rodrigue has been killed. Diego is relieved that he has died honorably, rather than being executed, and he is comforted by the Infanta. Chimène is relieved since she can now love his memory. More accurate news comes - both of victory and of his survival. Rodrigue enters with Moorish captives, ready to face judgment, and the king announces Chimène is to give the verdict. She confesses that she still loves him in spite of everything, and he is forgiven.

The Cast

Chimène
 the Count's daughter
Comte de Gormas
 Count Gormas
Dancer
 
Don Diègue
 Don Diego, Rodrigo's father
Infante
 daughter of the king
Rodrigue
 Rodrigo 'Le Cid'
Roi
 King of Castile

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