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La forza del destino

The Force of Destiny

Giuseppe Verdi 1813-1901

Opera in four acts
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
based on Ángel de Saavedra's play Don Alvaro o La fuerza del sino (1835)
First performed November 10 1862, Bolschoi Theatre, St. Petersburg

Sung in Italian with German and English surtitles. ca. 3hrs 15 mins, including one interval
Introduction, in German, in the Holzfoyer 30 minutes before performances begin

The settings in this multi-facetted story, spanning half a century, leap about between Calatrava's noble home in Seville, Hornachuelos, a village in Adalusia, a monastery and nearby hermitage, various places on battlefields in central Italy and in the Albanian mountains. It takes place in the mid-18th century: Donna Leonora loves Don Alvaro, scion of the last Peruvian Inca King. But her father, the Marquis of Calatrava, is against her union with a mestizo. The Marquis surprises them, just as they are about to elope. He is killed by a shot inadvertently fired from Don Alvaro's pistol. During the remaining three acts Leonora's brother, Don Carlo, tries to find the lovers, who became separated when fleeing the scene: he has sworn to take revenge on them. He eventually tracks them down to a monastery. Alvaro is now a monk and, although neither of them are aware of it, Leonora lives nearby, disguised as a hermit. A fatal ending cannot be prevented.

In this work from his mature period, written for St Petersburg in 1862, Verdi combined, inspired by French grand opéra, a highly dramatic story with theatrical scenes in a tavern, military camp and monastery. There are also showcases for the episodic figures of the fortune teller and troops entertainer Preziosilla, the Father Superior Padre Guariano and monk Fra Melitone, a comic figure. Racism is a central theme in the work, the brutalisation of society in times of war, another. The so called „destiny motif“, insistent, nervous can be heard right at the beginning. How far blind fate can be held responsible for the tragic events and not the protagonists is an open question. This extravagant work, with unusually modern dramaturgy, contains many of Verdi's most inspired music, which carries the listener away.

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