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Giuseppe Verdi


Librettist: Francesco Maria Piave
Based on Hernani, a French play by Victor Hugo.

Cast of Characters

  • Elvira, (soprano) a niece and ward of Silva
  • Giovanna, (mezzo-soprano) her lady-in-waiting
  • Don Juan of Aragon [ alias Ernani ], (tenor) nobleman who is now a bandit
  • Don Carlo, (baritone) King of Spain
  • Don Ruy Gomez de Silva, (bass) Spanish grandee
  • Iago, (bass) his esquire
  • Don Riccardo, (tenor) Don Carlo's lieutenant
  • Outlaws, courtiers, guests and conspirators.


Spain in 1519.


9th March 1844; Teatro La Fenice, Venice, Italy.


Ernani has been stripped of his title, lands and wealth after backing the losing side in some civil strife. His lover, Elvira, is to be married to her older uncle and guardian, Silva. Elvira is in Silva's castle when Don Carlo appears to inform her of his love for her. Elvira refuses his advances and he is about to abduct her when Ernani enters. Ernani defies the King who recognizes him for the bandit he is. They challenge each other and are about to fight when Silva enters aghast at finding two rivals with his betrothed. All prepare to duel when the royal squire enters to announce the King's arrival. They are further shocked when Don Carlo, who has concealed his identity, is reavealed to be the King. Carlo has come to Silva to seek his advice. He identifies Ernani as one of his soldiers and gives him leave.

Don Carlo later abducts Elvira in hopes that Silva, who has been harboring Ernani, will surrender him. Ernani slips from his hiding place to convince Silva to join their forces to defeat Carlo. He pledges to end his life whenever Silva signals with a hunting horn that he gives to him. Just as the men are about to make a move, it is announced that Carlo has been elected Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. He pardons Ernani, Silva and the conspirators. He awards Elvira to Ernani much to Silva's consternation. Later, Elvira and Ernani's marriage celebration is halted when Silva summons Ernani with the hunting horn.

Memorable Sections of Music

Come rugiada al cespite
Ernani, involami
Infelice! et tu credevi
No, vendetta più tremenda
Vieni meco, sol di rose
Oh, de' verd' anni miei

Final Trio: Non ebbe di noi miseri

Copyright © 1996, Stephen L. Parker