Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ernani , Blood and Thunder

In one of Guiseppe Verdi's earliest operas Ernani  we are treated in full measure to what Leontyne Price called famously the  Blood and Thunder of Verdi.  The inspiration, a play by Victor Hugo, Hernani.
The plot revolves around not a love triangle,but a quartet of wild and intractable desires. There is an aging nobleman, Gomez de Silva who holds Elvira virtual prisoner in his castle. We then meet the real love of her life,a bandit by the name of Ernani. He in fact it is then revealed has a second rival, no one less than Carlo, King of Spain. Elvira,besieged on all sides cries out her most personal hope and desire in the powerful  -  Ernani!  Ernani, involame  
                                    Ernani, carry me away , from that abhorred embrace
There folllows a series of shifting alliances in which the young lovers for all their passion and efforts are unable to escape. At first it seems that Carlo, on the verge of being crowned Holy Roman Emperor and de Silva would be mutual allies. De Silva then incredibly defies the King and will not either reveal the whereabouts of Ernani or renounce Elvira.There is a brief and fatal alliance struck between Ernani and de Silva, they will assassinate the King. He is in fact pledged to die by Ernani's rebellious hand. In an incredible reversal, the King renounces Elvira and sanctions a union of the two lovers. But it is too late: the plot once set in motion cannot be halted and de Silva demands that Ernani murder Carlo, now his unlikely benefactor, as he swore. Rather than betray his true feeling and his honor, Ernani kills himself and Elvira collapses over his dead body, four glorious acts later.
 Unlike his two previous early successes I Lombardi and Nabbuco in which choruses and the sweeping epic drawing on history and religion are portrayed, here the focus falls on individual fates and desires are raised to titanic proportions.  
Tune in this Saturday at noon for the Metropolitan Opera's performance of the young Verdi's inspired work Ernani, here on KPAC and KTXI .
by Ron Moore

No comments: