Les vêpres siciliennes


Les vêpres siciliennes

"Les vêpres siciliennes" ("The Sicilian Vespers") is an opera in five acts by the Italian romantic composer Giuseppe Verdi set to a French libretto by Charles Duveyrier and Eugène Scribe from their work "Le duc d'Albe". It is based on a historical event, the Sicilian Vespers of 1282, using material drawn from the medieval Sicilian tract "Lu rebellamentu di Sichilia". [Clifford R. Backman (2002), "The Decline and Fall of Medieval Sicily: Politics, Religion, and Economy in the Reign of Frederick III, 1296–1337" (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 6.] It was first performed at the Paris Opéra on 13 June 1855.

The Italian version: "I vespri siciliani"

As was later to happen with Verdi's "Don Carlos", which was also based on a French libretto, an Italian libretto was quickly prepared under Verdi's supervision by the poet Ettore Caimi with the title, "Giovanna de Guzman" ["I now know what it means to translate and I feel sympathy for all bad tranlation that are around because it is impossible to make a good one", Verdi to Giulio Ricordi 6 June 1865 in Budden, p.238 (see below)] . It was first performed at the Teatro Regio, Parma on December 26, 1855.

Verdi was aware that in Italy at that time, it would have been impossible to place the story in Sicily ["I shall...(change) the subject so as to render it acceptable for Italian theatres", Letter from Verdi to Ricordi, 29 April 1855, quoted in Budden, p. 238 (see below)] but, based on Scribe's suggestions for changing the locationBudden, pp.238/240, see below] , it became Portugal in 1640 while under Spanish control.

Performance history

Because the original version never entered the established repertory, Verdi attempted to aid its revival at the Paris Opéra on 6 July 1863 by revising some of the roles for selected singers. However, after a few performances, the opera disappeared and was replaced by the French version of "Il trovatore", "Le trouvère". Except for one revival in Paris in 1863, "it vanished from the Parisian stage altogether"

In the 1855/1856 season, the Italian version of opera - without the ninety-minute ballet - was performed nine times and, after 1861, it reverted to its original name. Thus, in modern times, it is most often performed in Italian under the title "I vespri siciliani".

Roles

ynopsis

:Place: Palermo, Italy:Time: 1282

Act 1

"Palermo's main square"

Tebaldo, Roberto, and other French soldiers have gathered in front of the Governor's palace. As they offer a toast to their homeland, they are observed by the local Sicilians, unhappy with the occupation.

Elena enters dressed in mourning for her executed brother. The group demands that she entertain them, but her song only incites the Sicilians to rebellion against the occupiers. When the governor, Monteforte, enters the crowd calms down. Then Arrigo announces that that he has been released from prison. Alone with Arrigo, Montforte offers him a position with the French as long as he stays away from Elena. He refuses, and immediately follows Elena in to the palace.

Act 2

"Beside the sea"

Act 3

"Scene 1: Montforte's palace"

"Scene 2: A ball at montforte's palace"

Act 4

"A prison"

Act 5

"The gardens of Montforte's palace"

Noted arias

* "Viens à nous, Dieu tutélaire" (Deh! tu calma, o Dio possente) - Hélène in Act I
* "Dans l'ombre et le silence" (Nell'ombra e nel silenzio) - Jean Procida in Act II
* "Et toi, Palerme" (O tu Palermo) - Jean Procida in Act II
* "Au sein de la puissance" (In braccio alle dovizie) - Guy de Montfort in Act III, Scene 1
* "O jour de peine" (Giorno di pianto) - Henri in Act IV
* "La brise souffle au loin" (La brezza aleggia intorno) - Henri in Act V
* "Merci, jeunes amies" (Mercé, dilette amiche) - Hélène in Act V

Notable adaptations

multi-listen item
filename=Antonio Pasculli - Gran Concerto.ogg
title=Antonio Pasculli - Gran Concerto on themes from Verdi's "I Vespri Siciliani"
description=Antonio Pasculli's Gran Concerto on themes from Verdi's "I Vespri Siciliani". Performed by Alex Klein, oboe, and Lisa Bergman, piano.
format=ogg

elected recordings

Note: "Cat:" is short for catalogue number by the label company; "ASIN" is amazon.com product reference number.

Notes

References

*Budden, Julian, "The Operas of Verdi", Vol. 2, London: Cassell, 1978 ISBN 030431059X

External links

* [http://www.naxos.com/mainsite/NewDesign/fintro.files/bintro.files/operas/Vepres_siciliennes_Les(Ivespri_siciliani_The_Sicilian_Vespers).htm Synopsis] from Naxos Records
* [http://www.giuseppeverdi.it/stampabile.asp?IDCategoria=162&IDSezione=581&ID=19909 Libretto (in Italian)]


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