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Giuseppe Verdi

Les Vêpres Siciliennes

Librettists: Eugène Scribe and Charles Duveyrier
Based on Eugène Scribe and Charles Duveyrier's libretto for Le duc d'Albe.

Cast of Characters

  • Hélène, (soprano) Sister of Frederick of Austria
  • Henri, (tenor) a young Sicilian
  • Guy de Montforte, (baritone) Governor of Sicily
  • Giovanni da Procida, (bass) Sicilian doctor
  • de Béthune, (bass) a French officer
  • Count Vaudemont, (bass) a French officer
  • Ninetta, (soprano) Elena's attendant
  • Danieli, (tenor) a young Sicilian
  • Thibault, (tenor) a French Soldier
  • Robert, (bass) a French Soldier
  • Manfredo, (tenor) a Sicilian
  • French soldiers, Sicilians, nobles, pages, monks and an executioner.
Les Vêpres Siciliennes

Setting

Palermo in 1282 A. D.

Premiere

Opéra Paris, France;
13th June 1855.

Plot

In the thirteenth century in Sicily, French troops are in control of the area. At the town square in Palermo, French soldiers are drinking. Hélène enters and is ordered to entertain them with song. Her song encourages the Sicilians to rise up against the French. An all out battle begins, but is shortly quelled by the appearance of de Montforte at the door of his palace. In the city, Procida who is the banished leader of the Sicilian patriots, exhorts a small band of patriots to deliver their homeland. Henri, who is in love with Hélène, contfronts his sworn enemy, Procida. He refuses an invitation to attend a ball given by Montforte and is imprisoned. Procida stirs up feelings against the French by encouraging them to carry off the young Sicilian women which they do.

Years before, Montforte had a son whom he now finds is none other than Henri. The two are reunited and later at the ball, Henri is torn between his new found father and his friends and decides in favor of his father. Cursed by the Sicilians, Henri is also hated by Hélène who has also been imprisoned. The two are re-united as he once more realizes their real enemy to be be his father, Montforte whom pardons Henri, Hélène and Procida. He also grants Hélène's hand in marriage to Henri. At the wedding, the Sicilians victoriously revolt against the French.

Memorable Music

The Overture
O toi, Palermo
Au sein de la puissance
Merci, jeunes amies

Copyright © 1996, Stephen L. Parker

Trumpet