Music with Ease > 19th Century Italian Opera > The Sicilian Vespers (Verdi)
I Vespri Siciliani
(English title: The Sicilian Vespers)
(French title: Les vêpres siciliennes)
An Opera by Giuseppe Verdi
"I Vespri Siciliani" (The Sicilian Vespers) had its first performance at the Grand Opéra, Paris, under the French title, "Les Vêpres Siciliennes," June 13, 1855. It was given at La Scala, Milan, 1856; London, Drury Lane, 1859; New York, Academy of Music, November 7, 1859; and revived there November, 1868. The work also has been presented under the title of "Giovanna di Guzman." The libretto is by Scribe and deals with the massacre of the French invaders of Sicily, at vespers, on Easter Monday, 1282. The principal characters are Guy de Montford, French Viceroy, baritone; Arrigo, a Sicilian officer, tenor; Duchess Hélène, a prisoner, soprano; Giovanni di Procida, a native conspirator, bass. Arrigo, who afterwards is discovered to be the brutal Guy de Monfords son, is in love with Hélène. The plot turns upon his efforts to rescue her.
There is one famous number in the "The Sicilian Vespers." This is the "Bolero," sung by Hélène -- "Merce, dilette amiche" (My thanks, beloved, companions).