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Luisa Miller is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, based on the play Kabale und Liebe by Friedrich von Schiller. The first performance was given at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples on December 8, 1849. This opera belongs to Verdi's early period.

Contents

Performance history

The US premiere took place at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia on 27 October 1852 followed on 3 June 1858 by the first UK presentation at Her Majesty's Theatre in London. There have been reasonably frequent performances at the Metropolitan Opera in New York from 1929 to 2006; between those years, there have been 86 performances with one of the 1979 performances now appearing on DVD.

Three opera companies, which plan to present all of Verdi's operas before the bi-centenary of his birth in 2013, have given or plan to give this opera. The Sarasota Opera presented Luisa Miller in 1999; the Teatro Regio di Parma gave it in October 2007 as part of their on-going "Festival Verdi" [1]; and the ABAO in Bilbao, Spain, has yet to schedule it.

In Australia, Melbourne City Opera have announced they will perform an "in concert" version in September 2009.

Roles

Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 8 December 1849[2]
(Conductor: - )
Miller, a retired soldier baritone Achille De Bassini
Luisa, his daughter soprano Marietta Gazzaniga
Count Walter bass Antonio Selva
Rodolfo, his son tenor Settimio Malvezzi
Federica, Duchess of Ostheim, Walter's niece mezzo-soprano Teresa Salandri
Wurm, Walter's steward bass Marco Arati
Laura, a village girl mezzo-soprano Maria Salvetti
A peasant tenor Francesco Rossi
Damigelle di Federica, Paggi, Famigliari, Arcieri, Abitanti del villaggio

Synopsis

Time: Early 17th Century
Place: The Tyrol
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Act 1

Scene 1: A village

On Luisa's birthday, the villagers have gathered outside her house to serenade her. She loves Carlo, a young man she has met in the village (Lo vidi e'l primo palpito /"I saw him and my heart felt its first thrill of love") and looks for him in the crowd. Luisa's father, Miller, is worried by this mysterious love since Carlo is a stranger. Carlo appears and the couple sing of their love (Duet: t'amo d'amor ch'esprimere / "I love you with a love that words can only express badly"). As the villagers leave to enter the nearby church, Miller is approached by a courtier, Wurm, who is in love with Luisa and wishes to marry her. But Miller tells him that he will never make a decision against his daughter's will (Sacra la scelta è d'un consorte / "The choice of a husband is sacred"). Irritated by his reply, Wurm reveals to Miller that in reality Carlo is Rodolfo, Count Walter's son. Alone, Miller expresses his anger (Ah fu giusto il mio sospetto / "Ah! My suspicion was correct").

Scene 2: Count Walter's castle

Wurm informs the Count of Rodolfo's love for Luisa and Wurm is ordered to summon the son. The Count expresses his frustration with his son (Il mio sangue la vita darei / "Oh, everything smiles on me"). When he enters, tells Rodolfo that it is intended that he marry Walter's niece Federica, the Duchess of Ostheim.

When Rodolfo is left alone with Federica, he confesses that he loves another woman, hoping that the duchess will understand. But Federica is too much in love with him to understand (Duet: Deh! la parola amara perdona al labbro mio / "Pray forgive my lips for the bitter words").

Scene 3: Miller's house

Miller tells his daughter who Rodolfo really is. Rodolfo arrives and admits his deception but swears that his love is sincere. Kneeling in front of Miller he declares that Luisa is his bride. Count Walter enters and confronts his son. Drawing his sword, Miller defends his daughter and Walter orders that both father and daughter be arrested. Rodolfo stands up against his father and threatens him: if he does not free the girl, Rodolfo will reveal how Walter became count. Frightened, Walter orders Luisa to be freed.

Act 2

Scene 1: A room in Miller's home

Villagers come to Luisa and tell her that her father has been seen being dragged away in chains. Then Wurm arrives and confirms that Miller is to be executed. But he offers her a bargain: her father's freedom in exchange for a letter in which Luisa declares her love for Wurm and states that she has tricked Rodolfo. Initially resisting (Tu puniscimi, O Signore / "Punish me, o Lord"), she gives way and writes the letter at the same time being warned that she must keep up the pretense of voluntarily writing the letter and being in love with Wurm. Cursing him (A brani, a brani, o perfido / "O perfidious wretch"), Luisa wants only to die.

Scene:2: A room in Count Walter's castle

At the castle Walter and Wurm recall how the Count rose to power by killing his own cousin and Wurm reminds the Count how Rodolfo also knows of this. The two men realize that, unless they act together, they may be doomed (Duet: L'alto retaggio non ho bramato / "The noble inheritance of my cousin"). Duchess Federica and Luisa enter. The girl confirms the contents of her letter.

Scene 3: Rodolfo's rooms

Rodolfo reads Luisa's letter and, ordering a servant to summon Wurm, he laments the happy times which he spent with Luisa (Quando le sere al placido / "When at eventide, in the tranquil glimmer of a starry sky"). The young man has challenged Wurm to a duel. To avoid the confrontation the courtier fires his pistol in the air, bringing the Count and his servants running in. Count Walter advises Rodolfo to revenge the offense he has suffered by marrying Duchess Federica. In despair, Rodolfo abandons himself to fate (L'ara o l'avella apprestami / "Prepare the altar or the grave for me").

Act 3

A room in Miller's home

In the distance echoes of the celebration of Rodolfo and Federica's wedding can be heard. Old Miller, freed from prison, comes back home. He enters his house and embraces his daughter, then reads the letter she has prepared for Rodolfo. Luisa is determined to take her own life (La tomba e un letto sparso di fiori / "The grave is a bed strewn with flowers"), but Miller manages to persuade her to stay with him. (Duet: La filia, vedi, pentita / "Your child, see, repentant". Alone now, Luisa continues praying. Rodolfo slips in and unseen pours poison into the water jug on the table. He then asks Luisa if she really wrote the letter in which she declared her love for Wurm. "Yes," the girl replies. Rodolfo drinks a glass of water then passes a glass to Luisa and invites her to drink. Then he tells her that they are both condemned to die. Before she dies, Luisa has time to tell Rodolfo the truth about the letter (Duet: Ah piangi; it tuo dolore / "Weep your sorrow is more justified"). Miller returns and comforts his dying daughter; together the three say their prayers and farewells (Trio, Luisa: Padre, ricevi l'estremo addio / "Father, receive my last farewell"; Rodolfo: Ah! tu perdona il fallo mio / "Oh, forgive my sin"; Miller: O figlia, o vita del cor paterno / "Oh, child, life of your father's heart"). As she dies, peasants enter with Count Walter and Wurm and before he too dies, Rodolfo runs his sword through Wurm's breast declaring to his father La pena tua mira / "Look on your punishment".

Recordings

Year Cast
(Luisa, Rodolfo, Miller, Federica, Count Walter, Wurm)
Conductor,
Opera House and Orchestra
Label
1951 Lucy Kelston,
Giacomo Lauri-Volpi,
Scipio Colombo,
Mitì Truccato Pace,
Giacomo Vaghi,
Duilio Baronti
Mario Rossi,
RAI Chorus and Orchestra
Opera d'Oro
Cat: 1429
1964 Anna Moffo,
Carlo Bergonzi,
Cornell MacNeil,
Shirley Verrett,
Giorgio Tozzi,
Ezio Flagello
Fausto Cleva,
RCA Italiana Opera Chorus and Orchestra
Audio CD: RCA Victor
Cat: GD 86646
1975 Montserrat Caballe,
Luciano Pavarotti,
Sherrill Milnes,
Anna Reynolds,
Bonaldo Giaiotti,
Richard van Allan
Peter Maag,
National Philharmonic
Audio CD: Arts Archive
Cat: 430882
1979 Katia Ricciarelli,
Plácido Domingo,
Renato Bruson,
Gwynne Howell,
Yelena Obraztsova,
Gwynne Howell,
Luigi De Corato
Loren Maazel,
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden Chorus and Orchestra
(Live recording of June performance
Audio CD: House of Opera
Cat: CDBB 711
1979 Renata Scotto,
Plácido Domingo,
Sherrill Milnes,
Jean Kraft,
Bonaldo Giaiotti,
James Morris
James Levine,
Metropolitan Opera orchestra and chorus
(Live recording of 20 Jan. performance)
Audio CD: House of Opera
Cat: CDBB 707
DVD: Deutsche Grammophon
Cat: DG 073 4027 and B0007070-09
1988 June Anderson,
Taro Ichihara,
Edward Toumajian,
Susanna Anselmi,
Paul Plishka,
Romuald Tesarowicz
Maurizio Arena,
Opéra de Lyon Orchestra and Chorus and Opéra de Montpellier Chorus
VHS: Home Vision
LUI-01 (NTSC);Polygram 079 262-3 (PAL)
DVD: Kultur Video
1992 Aprile Millo,
Plácido Domingo,
Vladimir Chernov,
Florence Quivar,
Paul Plishka,
Jan-Hendrik Rootering
James Levine,
Metropolitan Opera orchestra and chorus
Audio CD: Sony Classical
48073

Note: "Cat:" is short for catalogue number by the label company.

Source: Recordings of Luisa Miller on operadis-opera-discography.org.uk

Notes

  1. ^ Parma's 2007 "Festival Verdi"
  2. ^ List of singers taken from Budden, Julian, The Operas of Verdi,Vol. 1, p. 418, London: Cassell, 1974

External links


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