Giovanna d’Arco, Opera by G. Verdi
Giuseppe Verdi’s dramatic opera Giovanna d’Arco had its debut performance on 15 February 1845 at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala. Since then, it has been a regular part of the operatic repertoire even though it does not rank among the Maestro’s best-known or most highly regarded works. While never a darling of the critics, Giovanna d’Arco was always an audience favourite. Its dramatic and musical charge are Verdi in his usual strong form, as guests of Teatro dell’Opera di Roma in Rome can see for themselves.
The source text of the dramma lirico in four acts comes from Temistocle Solera, a librettist who had previously scripted other epic operas of Verdi’s, such as the massively successful Nabucco. Although he claimed sole authorship, keen literary minds will find key similarities between his libretto and the play The Maid of Orleans by Friedrich von Schiller. Musically, Giovanna d’Arco bears all the marks of a classic Verdi opera. Where Solera’s character development ends, the Maestro picks up and paints the heroes’ and villains’ portraits with evocative musical themes and emotion-laden instrumental and choral passages.
Most audience will at least have heard of the opera’s protagonist – Joan of Arc, the simple girl chosen by God to lead the French army into victory over the English invaders in 1429. Verdi’s Giovanna d’Arco puts the spotlight on the girl’s pious devotion to God, king, and country. In parallel to Giovanna’s visions and selfless acts of bravery, audience will also experience Charles’ hesitation to defend his land against the foreign enemy as well as Giacomo’s moral blindness that leads him to mistake his own daughter Giovanna’s God-given mission for possession by the devil. At Rome’s Teatro Costanzi, good and evil will have yet another epic clash, based on one of the greatest European legends and accompanied by Verdi’s outstanding music.