Giuseppe Verdi

La forza del destino, opera

    Description by John Palmer

    For nearly two years after the premiere of Un ballo in maschera, Verdi seemed uninterested in composing. No doubt his mind was occupied with other duties, both domestic (he married Giuseppina Strepponi) and political (he was nominated, in 1861, as a deputy in the new Italian parliament). In late 1860, a commission from the Imperial Theater of St. Petersburg prompted Verdi to break his silence as an artist.

    Francesco Maria Piave based his four-act libretto on the 1835 Spanish play, Don Alvaro, o La fuerza del sino, by Angel di Saavedra (1791-1865), who was influenced by Victor Hugo. Into this, Verdi inserted a scene from Friedrich Schiller's (1759-1805) Wallenstein's Camp, as translated by Andrea Maffei, which the composer had long wished to set. By November 1861, La forza del destino was complete except for the orchestration, which Verdi usually finished after experiencing the acoustics of the proposed theater. The final product is Verdi's most sprawling, dramatically intricate opera.

    The premiere of La forza del destino (The Force of Destiny) was planned for the first part of the 1861-1862 season, but the prima donna became ill and the production was postponed. The premiere, on November 10, 1862, was not as successful as Verdi had wished, and the next year he began altering the score. On February 27, 1869, a revised version with additions by Antonio Ghislanzoni, was first performed at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.

    Verdi and Piave create a tangled tale in which the characters come together through coincidence. Melitone and Preziosilla provide asides and comic elements as the three main characters, Donna Leonora, Don Carlo, and Don Alvaro play out their tragic parts. The chorus, appearing in nearly every scene, is of greater importance than in any other of Verdi's operas and has some of the most famous numbers in the opera, including, "Compagni, sostiamo" (new for 1869) and "Rataplan, rataplan," both in Act Three.

    One of the major differences between the 1862 and 1869 versions is the overture. In the first version, we find a concise prelude. Verdi expanded this in 1869 to a lengthy assemblage of melodies from the opera, stressing a three-note motive that is often called the "fate" motive, and a rising, four-note scale associated with Leonora. Verdi was not concerned with overall structure in this potpourri of tunes. The finale of the last act underwent the greatest changes between versions. In the first, Alvaro kills Carlo in a duel, Leonora enters to be reunited with Alvaro only to be stabbed by the dying Carlo, and Alvaro throws himself from a mountaintop (this was not the lighthearted Italian opera the St. Petersburg audience expected). In the revised version (more likely to be staged today), the duel occurs offstage, as does Carlos' stabbing of Leonora, who returns to the stage for the trio, "Non imprecare, umiliati." As the mode shifts from minor to major, Alvaro exclaims that he is redeemed.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Overture
    2. Buona notte, mia figlia
    3. Temea restasse
    4. Me pellegrina ed orfana
    5. Ah! per sempre
    6. Seguirti fino agl'ultimi
    7. È tardi
    8. Vil seduttor!
    9. Holà
    10. La cena è pronto
    11. Viva la guerra!
    12. Al suon del tamburo
    13. Padre Eterno Signor
    14. Viva la buona compagna
    15. Poich'è imberbe è l'incognito
    16. Son Pereda, son ricco d'onore
    17. Sta bene (Finale)
    18. Son giunta! grazie o Dio
    19. Madre, madre, pietosa Vergine
    20. Chi siete?
    21. Chi mi cerca?
    22. Or siam soli...
    23. Infelice, delusa, reietta
    24. Sull'alba il piede
    25. Il santo nome di Dio Signore
    26. La Vergine degli angeli
    27. Attenti al gioco
    28. La vita è inferno
    29. Oh, tu che in seno agl'angeli
    30. Al tradimento
    31. Amici in vita e in morte
    32. All'armi!
    33. Arde la mischia!
    34. Piano, qui posi
    35. Solenne in quest'ora
    36. Morir! Tremenda cosa!
    37. Urna fatale del mio destino
    38. Ah! Egli è salvo
    39. Compagni, sostiamo
    40. Nè gustare m'è dato
    41. Sleale! Il segreto
    42. Lorché pifferi e Tamburri
    43. Qua, vivandiere, un sorso
    44. A buon mercato
    45. Pane, pan per carità
    46. Che vergogna!
    47. Nella guerra, è la follia
    48. Toh, toh! Poffare il mondo
    49. Lasciatelo ch'ei vada
    50. Rataplan
    51. Fate la carità (chorus)
    52. Che? Siete all'osteria quieti?
    53. Auf! Pazienza non v'ha che basti
    54. Del mondo i disinganni
    55. Giunge qualcun
    56. Siete il portiere?
    57. Invano Alvaro
    58. Le minaccie i fieri accenti
    59. Pace, pace, mio Dio
    60. Io muoio! Confessione!
    61. Non imprecare, umiliata

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Sony Classical 88985311342
    2015 Walhall WLCD 0310
    2014 Myto Historical / Myto Historical Line MYTO 114
    2014 Warner Classics 634000
    2013 Sony Classical 88883721202
    2013 Bongiovanni HOC 07678
    2013 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099941674
    2012 Krescendo Records / Zebralution
    2012 Cetra / Warner Classics 2564661485
    2012 Broken Audio BRAUR 0237
    2012 Decca
    2011 EMI Classics
    2011 RCA Red Seal 88697986002
    2011 Membran 232744
    2010 Decca 4782200
    2010 Decca
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2009 G.O.P 66384
    2007 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 0946395918
    2007 Decca 4758681
    2007 Osteria 1002
    2007 Urania 22315
    2007 Myto Records 124
    2006 Myto Records 62114
    2006 Living Stage 1061
    2006 Ponto 1037
    2006 Myto Records 001215
    2006 Decca
    2006 Andromeda 5014
    2006 GOP Great Opera Performances 66334
    2006 Orfeo 681062
    2006 Dynamic 512/1-3
    2005 Vai Audio 1252-3
    2005 Opera Rara 304
    2005 GM Recordings 60015
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 Document / Documents Classics 222392
    2005 Deutsche Grammophon 477 5621GOM3
    2004 Music & Arts CD1140
    2004 Archipel 0126
    2004 Myto Records 43294
    2004 Bongiovanni 2545/6/7
    2004 Preiser Records 20033
    2004 Great Opera Performances 66303
    2003 Hardy Classic 6014
    2003 Aura Classics 1124
    2002 Warner Fonit 82652
    2002 Naxos 8110206/7
    2002 Opera D'Oro 1325
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 67449
    2000 Myto Records 4228
    2000 Myto Records 975174
    2000 Myto Records 3224
    2000 Opera D'Oro 9007
    1999 London 443678
    1999 Myto Records 992203
    1999 EMI Music Distribution 67124
    1999 Lyrica 1093
    1998 Myto Records 984192
    1998 Opera D'Oro 1176
    1997 EMI Music Distribution 56323
    1997 Philips 446951
    1997 RCA 74321 39502-2
    1996 Arkadia 78020
    1995 Deutsche Grammophon 445552
    1995 Seraphim UK 69039
    1995 Phoenix 510
    1993 EMI Music Distribution 64646
    1990 RCA 1864
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon 419 203-2GH3
    1988 RCA 7971
    1988 Decca 421598
    1987 EMI Music Distribution 47581
    1987 EMI Music Distribution 47485
    Standing Room Only 826
    Arkadia 612
    FRB Records 003
    Theorema 157-9
    Fonit-Cetra Italia 3
    Vox 3038
    Pantheon 6627
    Mondo Musica 10431
    Grammofono 2000 78567
    Foyer Records 2005
    G.Z. Classics 398
    Enterprise 4210
    Standing Room Only 807
    Theorema 121157
    Golden Age of Opera 151
    6w 80