Les vêpres siciliennes
Les vêpres siciliennes is one of Giuseppe Verdi’s Parisian-period operas. As such, it bears clear signs of musical experimentation and innovation, while still retaining the Maestro’s distinct musical language. Working in the specific French genre of grand opera, Verdi produced a monumental score to support five acts that pump with adrenaline, passion and Italian patriotism. The premiere at the Paris Opéra on 13 June 1855 gained the audience’s approval with ease, and Les vêpres siciliennes remains one of the composer’s lesser known but still very popular works. Teatro dell’Opera di Roma proudly revives this gem.
From the start, Les vêpres siciliennes was meant to be a special work. It was Verdi’s triumphant return to the grand opera genre, famous for its not so rigid conventions and extensive length. After the success of classic Italian operas like Il Trovatore and Rigoletto, the composer was in search of a different kind of challenge. He chose as his subject matter the Sicilian Vespers, a 1282 revolt which pushes the French monarchy out of the island of Sicily. The libretto was produced by Eugène Scribe and Charles Duveyrier, based on a previous text the team had produced for Le duc d’Albe by Gaetano Donizetti.
Verdi did not have an easy time producing Les vêpres siciliennes. The creative differences with Scribe and Duveyrier were particularly exhausting for him. In contrast to its challenging birth, however, the opera impresses with its score’s complexity and invention. Resting on his wealth of experience and advanced musical vocabulary, the composer played with melodic and rhythmic conventions to develop new means of emotional expression in sound. Audiences at Rome’s Teatro Costanzi will be transported to the glory days of the Sicilian Vespers on the wings of Verdi’s music.