La forza del destino (2005 production) - Further information

La forza del destino (2005 production)
Giuseppe Verdi
Francesco Maria Piave

World Première of the first version on 10th November 1862, Bolschoi-Theatre, St.

World Première of the second version on 27th February 1869, Teatro alla Scala, Milano


After a trio of unparalleled popular works, Rigoletto, Il trovatore and La traviata, Giuseppe Verdi’s fame was at its peak and he could pick and choose where and for whom he would compose. After his conflicts with theatre managers, librettists and censors during the mounting of Les Vêpres Siciliennes in Paris and his Un ballo in maschera in Rome, the invitation to write an opera for the imperial opera house in St Petersburg in 1860 was more than welcome. The choice of theme was left to the composer and he decided to adapt the popular Spanish cloak-and-dagger drama Don Alvaro o La fuerza del sino, which had been written by the Duke of Rivas in 1835. The plot links the protagonists through a series of highly improbable coincidences and Verdi and his librettist Francesco Maria Piave created in La forza del destino a piece which looks forward to his later works.

Don Alvaro plans to elope with Leonora because her father, the Marquis of
Calatrava, does not consider him to be a suitable son-in-law. When the Marquis foils their plan to escape and Alvaro is about to surrender, his pistol goes off accidentally and fatally wounds the Marquis. Calatrava curses his daughter as he dies. From now on Leonora is not only dogged by ill fortune but also by her brother, Don Carlo, who seeks revenge for what he considers as the murder of his father. While Leonora manages to find shelter in a convent, Don Alvaro enlists in a Spanish regiment fighting the Habsburgs in Italy. On the battlefield he meets Don Carlo, who follows him back to Leonora’s convent in Spain, where all three are brought together by fate and where, in an almost Hollywood style denouement, first Don Carlo, then Leonora and her beloved Don Alvaro all die. Verdi himself supervised the rehearsals for the premiere of Forza in the Imperial Theatre, St Petersburg in 1862. The work was not met with success and the composer, always his own severest critic, revised it for the first Milan production in 1869 and composed the famous and rousing overture for this version.

La forza del destino is the most melodic of Verdi operas. In addition to the great arias and duets for the three protagonists with their deeply moving cantilenas, Verdi composed, whatever the improbability of the situation, broadly structured and exciting ensembles. In these he was less influenced by the conventions of French "Grand Opéra", which seeks continual momentum towards an effective climax. It was much more important to Verdi to present the audience with a broad panorama at such moments and to underline this with colourful characters as Preziosilla, the gypsy, and the buffo monk, Melitone.

Our new production of La forza del destino, conducted by Fabio Luisi, will be directed by David Alden and designed by Gideon Davey. The festival première will take place in the Nationaltheater on 28th June 2005 with the part of Leonora sung by Violeta Urmana, Don Alvaro by Sergej Larin and Don Carlo by Mark Delavan.

Sir Peter Jonas
March 2004