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Metropolitan Opera Broadcast: Ernani 

Radio Broadcast of Saturday, April 4, 2015, 1 P.M. (ET)

Broadcast Ernani hdl 415
Elvira (Angela Meade) and Don Carlo (Dmitri Hvorostovsky) are confronted by Don Ruy Gomez de Silva (Ferruccio Furlanetto)
© Beatriz Schiller 2015
The 2014–15 Metropolitan Opera broadcast season is sponsored by
Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®, with generous long-term support from
The Annenberg Foundation, The Neubauer Family Foundation,
the Vincent A. Stabile Endowment for Broadcast Media,
and through contributions from listeners worldwide.

Ernani

Music by Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, after the play Hernani, by Victor Hugo

THE CAST  (in order of vocal appearance)
Ernani tenor, FRANCESCO MELI
Elvira soprano, ANGELA MEADE
Don Carlo      baritone, LUCA SALSI
Giovanna mezzo, MARYANN McCORMICK
Don Ruy Gomez de Silva bass, DMITRY BELOSSELSKIY
Jago bass, PAUL CORONA
Don Riccardo tenor, ISSACHAH SAVAGE
 
Conducted by JAMES LEVINE

The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus

Production: Pier Luigi Samaritani
Staged by Peter McClintock
Set designer: Pier Luigi Samaritani
Costume designer: Peter J. Hall
Lighting designer: Gil Wechsler
Chorus master: Donald Palumbo
Musical preparation: Linda Hall, Paul Nadler,
    Carol Isaac, Vlad Iftinca
Assistant stage director: Eric Einhorn
Prompter: Carol Isaac
Stage band conductor: Jeffrey Goldberg
Italian coach: Gildo Di Nunzio

Production a gift of the Gramma Fisher
    Foundation, Marshalltown, Iowa

Revival a gift of Barbara Augusta Teichert
THE SCENES    Timings (ET) 
  (Spain and France, 16th c.)   
ACT I      1:00–2:01
    Sc. 1 Ernani’s camp in Aragon  
    Sc. 2 Elvira’s suite, Silva’s castle  
ACT II     Silva’s castle 2:38–3:12
ACT III Aix-la-Chapelle  3:41–
ACT IV  Ernani’s castle, Saragossa –4:35
 
Host: Margaret Juntwait
Commentator: Ira Siff
Music producer: Jay David Saks
Producers: Mary Jo Heath, Ellen Keel,
    William Berger
Executive producers: Mia Bongiovanni,
    Elena Park
 
For more information on the broadcasts,
    please visit www.operainfo.org.
 
Send quiz questions to:
    Metropolitan Opera Quiz
    Metropolitan Opera
    30 Lincoln Center
    New York, NY 10023
    or e-mail metquiz@metopera.org.
 
This performance is also being broadcast live
    on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SiriusXM channel 74.

THE STORY   

ACT I (The Bandit). In the mountains of Aragon, outlaws gather about their leader, the proscribed nobleman Ernani, who bemoans the fact that his beloved Elvira must marry her elderly uncle, Don Ruy Gomez de Silva. Seeing his despair, Ernani's men pledge to help rescue her.

That evening at Silva's castle, Elvira, longing for Ernani to come to her aid, is visited by an unexpected suitor, Charles I of Spain (Carlo). As she resists his advances, Ernani appears, and Carlo, unaware that the bandit is in truth the exiled son of his father's noble foe, taunts his rival. They are about to duel when Silva bursts in; failing to recognize the king, he is shocked to discover Elvira with strangers and threatens both men. The royal standard-bearer's arrival reveals Carlo's identity to the loyal old man, who bows in homage. Carlo, claiming he has come on royal business, confides that he may be chosen Holy Roman Emperor. Deciding to spend the night in the castle, he allows Ernani to escape by claiming him as part of the royal retinue. The proud bandit, rebelling at the thought of serving his father's enemy, vows revenge.

ACT II (The Guest). At Silva's castle, preparations are under way for his marriage to Elvira. Ernani appears, disguised as a pilgrim, and Silva extends the hospitality of the house. When Elvira enters in bridal dress, Ernani reveals his identity and offers his head, on which a price has been set, as a wedding gift. Elvira, left alone with him, shows him the knife with which she would have killed herself rather than marry Silva. The old man returns to find the couple embracing, but such is his code of honor that, rather than deliver his rival up to the approaching king, he conceals Ernani, preserving him for a personal vengeance. When Carlo angrily accuses Silva of harboring the outlaw, the old man offers his own head as forfeit. Elvira rushes in to beg the king's mercy; Carlo departs with her as hostage until Silva relents. Silva now demands satisfaction of Ernani, but the bandit reveals that the king, too, is Silva's rival for Elvira's affections and offers to rescue her from Carlo's clutches. As a token of faith, Ernani gives his hunting horn to Silva, promising to kill himself whenever the old man sounds it. Ernani leads his men to confront the king.

ACT III (Clemency). At Charlemagne's tomb, Carlo, awaiting the electors' choice for Holy Roman Emperor, meditates on the futility of wealth and power. No sooner has Carlo entered the tomb than conspirators convene to determine who will be his assassin. Ernani is selected; Silva offers to cancel Ernani's vow if he will yield the honor, but Ernani refuses, again provoking the old man's wrath. The others pledge to put an end to tyranny. As booming cannon shots announce that Carlo has been elected emperor, the king emerges from the tomb and orders the electors to punish the conspirators, imprisoning the commoners and beheading the nobles. Ernani proudly joins the nobles, revealing that he is Don Juan of Aragon. Elvira again begs mercy of Carlo. Inspired by the spirit of Charlemagne, the new emperor pardons all and blesses the marriage of Ernani and Elvira, as Silva broods on revenge.

ACT IV (The Masker). After the wedding of Ernani and Elvira, the guests disperse. The lovers' brief moment of privacy is interrupted by the distant sound of a horn. Ernani, recognizing Silva's demand, feigns illness, sending Elvira for medicine, then confronts Silva alone. Elvira returns as Ernani is pleading for a moment's grace to enjoy his long-awaited happiness, but the implacable old man demands that he choose poison or the dagger. Ernani stabs himself and falls dying in Elvira's arms as Silva pronounces his vengeance complete.

THE BACKGROUND 

Thirty-year-old Giuseppe Verdi achieved international stature with the solid success of his Ernani, which had its premiere at La Fenice in Venice on March 9, 1844. Verdi and his librettist, Francesco Maria Piave, chose to adapt Victor Hugo's play Hernani, a controversial work that espoused political and literary liberalism. Typical of Verdi's early period, Ernani combines bel canto emphasis on melody (often ornamented with flourishes) with urgency of dramatic instinct.

The Metropolitan Opera premiere, on January 28, 1903, starred Marcella Sembrich, Emilio De Marchi, Antonio Scotti and Edouard de Reszke. The Met's current production made its bow on November 18, 1983, with Leona Mitchell, Luciano Pavarotti, Sherrill Milnes and Ruggero Raimondi paced by James Levine.

WHAT TO READ AND HEAR 

Mary Jane Phillips-Matz's biography (Oxford) is essential reading. The New Grove Guide to Verdi and his Operas (Oxford) is also helpful in placing the composer and his work in context.

On CD, Thomas Schippers's 1967 RCA performance remains potent, thanks to its persuasive, fresh-voiced stars, Leontyne Price and Carlo Bergonzi. Richard Bonynge's 1987 recording (Decca) has a vivid Ernani in Luciano Pavarotti and a slightly less urgent Elvira, Joan Sutherland. On DVD, Riccardo Muti paces an A-list principal team of Mirella Freni, Plácido Domingo, Renato Bruson and Nicolai Ghiaurov in Luca Ronconi's 1982 La Scala production (Kultur; also EMI CD). The Met's 1983 telecast of its current staging, with James Levine conducting, is available on DVD (Decca). spacer 

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