|La forza del destino|
|Opera by Giuseppe Verdi|
c. 1870 poster by Charles Lecocq
|Librettist||Francesco Maria Piave|
|Based on||Ángel de Saavedra's|
Don Álvaro o la fuerza del sino of 1835
La forza del destino (Italian pronunciation: [la ˈfɔrtsa del deˈstiːno]; The Power of Fate, often translated The Force of Destiny) is an Italian opera by Giuseppe Verdi. The libretto was written by Francesco Maria Piave based on a Spanish drama, Don Álvaro o la fuerza del sino (1835), by Ángel de Saavedra, 3rd Duke of Rivas, with a scene adapted from Friedrich Schiller's Wallensteins Lager. It was first performed in the Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre of Saint Petersburg, Russia, on 10 November 1862 O.S. (N.S. 22 November).
La forza del destino is frequently performed, and there have been a number of complete recordings. In addition, the overture (to the revised version of the opera) is part of the standard repertoire for orchestras, often played as the opening piece at concerts.
After its premiere in Russia, La Forza underwent some revisions and made its debut in Europe with performances in Rome in 1863 under the title Don Alvaro. Performances followed in Madrid (with the Duke of Rivas, the play's author, in attendance) and the opera subsequently travelled to New York, Vienna (1865), Buenos Aires (1866), and London (1867).
Following these productions, Verdi made further, more extensive revisions to the opera with additions to the libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni. This version, which premiered at La Scala, Milan, on 27 February 1869, has become the standard performance version. The most important changes were a new overture (replacing a brief prelude); the addition of a final scene to Act 3, following the duel between Carlo and Alvaro; and a new ending, in which Alvaro remains alive, instead of throwing himself off a cliff to his death. The opera in this version is frequently performed in the world's opera houses today.
Recent critical editions
In November 2005, the critical edition of the 1869 version was first performed by the San Francisco Opera whose program book included an essay by Gossett on the evolution of the various versions: 'La forza del destino': Three States of One Opera. The Caramoor International Music Festival gave a concert performance of the critical edition of the 1862 version, plus never-performed vocal pieces from the 1861 version, in July 2008.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere cast
10 November 1862
Conductor: Edoardo Bauer (Baveri)
27 February 1869
Conductor: Eugenio Terziani
|The Marquis of Calatrava||bass||Meo||Giuseppe Vecchi|
|Leonora, his daughter||soprano||Caroline Barbot||Teresa Stolz|
|Don Carlo di Vargas, his son||baritone||Francesco Graziani||Luigi Colonnese|
|Don Alvaro, Leonora's suitor||tenor||Enrico Tamberlik||Mario Tiberini|
|Curra, Leonora's maid||mezzo-soprano||Lagramante||Ester Neri|
|Preziosilla, a young gypsy||mezzo-soprano||Constance Nantier-Didiée||Ida Benza-Nagy|
|Mayor||bass||Ignazio Marini||Luigi Alessandrini|
|Maestro Trabuco, a muleteer and peddler||tenor||Geremia Bettini||Antonio Tasso|
|Il Padre Guardiano (The Father Superior), a Franciscan||bass||Gian Francesco Angelini||Marcel Junca|
|Fra Melitone, a Franciscan||baritone||Achille De Bassini||Giacomo Rota|
|A surgeon||bass||Alessandro Polonini||Vincenzo Paraboschi|
|Peasants, servants, pilgrims, soldiers, vivandières and friars|
2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (2nd doubling bass clarinet), 2 bassoons; 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, cimbasso; timpani, percussion (side drum, bass drum); 2 harps; strings. Onstage: organ, 6 trumpets, 4 side drums.
- Place: Spain and Italy
- Time: around 1750
The mansion of Leonora's family, in Seville
Don Alvaro is a young nobleman from South America (presumably Peru) who is part Indian and who has settled in Seville where he is not very well thought of. He falls in love with Donna Leonora, the daughter of the Marquis of Calatrava, but Calatrava is determined that she shall marry only a man of the highest birth. Despite knowing her father’s aversion to Alvaro, Leonora is deeply in love with him, and she determines to give up her home and country in order to elope with him. In this endeavor, she is aided by her confidante, Curra. (Me pellegrina ed orfana – "Exiled and orphaned far from my childhood home").
When Alvaro arrives to fetch Leonora, she hesitates: she wants to elope with him, but part of her wants to stay with her father; she eventually pulls herself together, ready for their elopement. However, the Marquis unexpectedly enters and discovers Leonora and Alvaro together. He threatens Alvaro with death, and in order to remove any suspicion as to Leonora’s purity, Alvaro surrenders himself. As he flings down his pistol, it goes off, mortally wounding the Marquis, who dies cursing his daughter.
Scene 1: An inn in the village of Hornachuelos
About a year has passed since the death of the Marquis of Calatrava. While fleeing the scene, Leonora and Alvaro became separated, and neither has made any concerted effort to find the other.
In this scene, the Alcalde, several peasant muleteers, Don Carlo of Vargas (the brother of Donna Leonora), and many others are gathered in the kitchen of the inn as dinner is served. Don Carlo, disguised as a student from Salamanca and using the fictitious name Pereda, is now seeking revenge against Alvaro and Leonora for dishonoring the family name. (Son Pereda son ricco d'onore – "I am Pereda, of honorable descent"). During the supper, Preziosilla, a popular young gypsy girl, arrives, and she tells the young men’s fortunes and exhorts them to enlist in the war (Al suon del tamburo – "When side drums rattle") for Italy’s freedom, which all agree to do. Leonora arrives in male attire, on her way to a nearby monastery, but luckily she slips away without being discovered by Carlo.
Scene 2: A monastery nearby
Leonora has come to take refuge in the monastery to live out her remaining days secluded from the rest of mankind. (Son giunta! ... Madre, pietosa Vergine – "I've got here! Oh, thank God!") After a somewhat surly reception by Fra Melitone, she tells the abbot, Padre Guardiano, her true name and her wish to spend the remainder of her life in the monastery's hermitage. The abbot recounts the trials she will have to undergo. Leonora, Padre Guardiano, Fra Melitone, and the other monks join in prayer as she is accepted in the hermitage.
Scene 1: A forest near Velletri, in Italy
Meanwhile Don Alvaro has joined the Spanish army under the name of Don Federico Herreros (La vita è inferno all'infelice ... O tu che in seno agli angeli – "Life is a hell to those who are unhappy....Oh, my beloved, risen among the angels"). One night he saves the life of Don Carlo who is serving in the same army under the name of Don Felix Bornos. They become close friends and go side by side into the Battle of Velletri, an historical event which occurred in 1744.
Scene 2: The officers' quarters
In one of these engagements Don Alvaro returns, believing himself to be mortally wounded. He entrusts to Don Carlo’s care a valise containing a bundle of letters which he orders his friend to destroy as soon as Don Alvaro dies: (Solenne in quest'ora – "Swear to me, in this solemn hour"). Don Carlo has sworn not to look at the contents of the letters; but he becomes suspicious of his friend. (Morir! Tremenda cosa! ... Urna fatale del mio destino – "To die! What an awesome thought...Get away, fatal lot sent to my Destiny!"). He opens the valise, finds his sister’s picture, and realizes Alvaro's true identity. At that moment a surgeon brings word that Don Alvaro may recover. Don Carlo is overjoyed at the idea of avenging his father’s death.
Scene 3: A camp near the battleground
Having recovered, Alvaro is confronted by Carlo. They begin to duel, but are pulled away from each other by the soldiers. As they restrain Carlo, the anguished Don Alvaro vows to enter a monastery.
The soldiers gather. Trabucco, the peddler, tries to sell them his wares; Fra Melitone chastises them for their godless ways; and Preziosilla leads them in a chorus in praise of the military life (Rataplan, rataplan, della gloria – "Rum-tum-tum on the drum is the music that makes a soldier's martial spirit rise").
Scene 1: The monastery
Impoverished peasants from the region approach Fra Melitone at the monastery at Hornachuelos for food and Padre Guardiano gently scolds Melitone for his less than charitable behavior towards them. Don Carlo then approaches, having learned of the presence of Don Alvaro there. Under the name of Father Raphael, Alvaro has indeed entered the monastery, near which is Leonora’s cave. Don Carlo forces him into a fight (Le minacce, i fieri accenti – "May the winds carry off with them").
Scene 2: A desolate spot near Leonora's hermitage
Leonora prays that she may find peace in death (Pace, pace mio Dio! – "Peace, O mighty Father, give me peace!"). Alvaro runs in, calling for help, having mortally wounded Carlo in their duel. The two lovers recognize each other. Leonora seeks her brother and, as she bends over him, he stabs her in the heart. The dying Leonora returns, supported by Padre Guardiano; he and Alvaro pray to heaven as she dies.
- [Original version: Overcome by the guilt at having killed or caused the death of all the Calatravas, Alvaro jumps to his death into the nearby ravine, cursing humankind, over the protests of Father Guardiano].
Over the years La Forza has acquired a reputation for being cursed, following some unfortunate incidents. In 1960 at the Metropolitan Opera, the noted baritone Leonard Warren collapsed and died during a performance of the opera. The supposed curse reportedly kept Luciano Pavarotti from ever performing the opera, and the tenor Franco Corelli to follow small rituals during performances to avoid bad luck.
The main theme in the musical scores for the films Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources was adapted by Jean-Claude Petit from the aria "Invano, Alvaro" in La forza del destino. The Korean film The Scarlet Letter opens with "Pace, pace mio Dio", introducing a film about intensely powerful obsession which brings its lovers to the brink of madness. La forza del destino also plays a thematic role in the novel series A Series of Unfortunate Events (1999–2006).
- Sadie 2006, p. 231
- "La Forza del Destino". Operabase. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
- Patricia Brauner, "What is a Critical Edition? How Does it Happen?", University of Chicago website
- "Settling The Score: An Interview With Philip Gossett", Opera Today, 8 October 2006
- Gossett, Philip 2005, "La forza del destino: Three States of One Opera", San Francisco Opera program book, 2005/06 season, pp. x–xiii
- Mazza Schiantarelli, p. ??
- Budden 1984, p. 427
- Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "Source of cast for revised version". L'Almanacco di Gherardo Casaglia (in Italian).
- David Kimbell 2001, in Holden p. 1000
- Melitz and Osborne, Charles: sources of the synopsis
- The Order of Calatrava was a Military Order which had a major role in Spanish history, but in actual history there had never been an individual noble family with that title.
- The actual war referred to - the War of Austrian Succession - could hardly be described as "a war for Italy’s freedom"; the reference is anachronistic, reflecting the struggle for Italian Unification taking place at the time when the opera was written.
- Tim Smith 30 September 2007, "Baltimore Opera tests superstition: Company to take on Verdi's 'La forza del destino,' despite its history of bad luck", The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, MD): "Superstition comes easily to the colorful, slightly crazy world of the performing arts.....Opera houses seem just as susceptible to superstitious thinking"
- Bing 1972, p. ?
- Mike Mitchell, " 'Cursed' opera to be performed", The Beacon News (Aurora, IL), 15 April 2007
- "I remember that evening well. It was a performance of La Forza del Destino. Your mother was wearing a red shawl, with long features along the edges. During intermission I followed them to the snack..." The Snicket File.
- "Watch new trailer for Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events".
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