Music with Ease > 19th Century Italian Opera > La Forza del Destino (Verdi)
La Forza del Destino
(English title: The Force of Destiny)
An Opera by Giuseppe Verdi
At Petrograd, November 10, 1862, there was brought out Verdis opera in four acts, "La Forza del Destino" (The Force of Destiny). London heard it in June, 1867; New York, February 2, 1865, and with the last act revised by the composer, at the Academy of Music in 1880, with Annie Louise Cary, Campanini, Galassi, and Del Puente. The principal characters are Marquis di Calatrava, bass; Donna Leonora and Don Carlo, his children, soprano and baritone; Don Alvaro, tenor; Abbot of the Franciscan Friars, bass. There are muleteers, peasants, soldiers, friars, etc. The scenes are laid in Spain and Italy; the period is the middle of the eighteenth century. The libretto is based on the play, "Don Alvaro o la Fuerzer del Sino" by the Duke of Rivas.
Don Alvaro is about to elope with Donna Leonora, daughter of the Marquis, when the latter comes upon them and its accidentally killed by Don Alvaro. The Marquis curses his daughter with his dying breath and invokes the vengeance of his son, Don Carlo, upon her and her lover. She escapes in male attire to a monastery, confesses to the Abbot, and is conducted by him to a cave, where he assures her of absolute safety.
Don Alvaro and Don Carlo meet before the cave. They fight a duel in which Don Alvaro mortally wounds Don Carlo. Donna Leonora, coming out of the cave and finding her brother dying, goes to him. With a last effort he stabs her in the heart. Don Alvaro throws himself over a nearby precipice.
"Madre, pietosa Vergine" (Oh, holy Virgin) is one of the principal numbers of the opera. It is sung by Donna Leonora, kneeling in the moonlight near the convent, while from within is heard the chant of the priests.
The "Madre pietosa" also is utilized as a theme in the overture.