13 Apr 2008


Le Cid: opéra in four acts and ten tableaux.

Music composed by Jules Massenet. Libretto by Adolphe d’Ennery, Edouard Blau and Louis Gallet based on Le Cid (1637) by Pierre Corneille.

First Performance: 30 November 1885, Opéra, Paris.

Principal Characters:
Chimène, daughter of Count Gormas Soprano
L’Infante, Daughter of Don Fernand Soprano
Rodrigue (Le Cid) Tenor
Don Diègue (Don Diego), father of Rodrigue Bass
Le Roi, Don Fernand, King of Castille Baritone
Le Comte de Gormas (Count Gormas) Bass
Sr. Jacques Bass
L’Envoyé Maure Baritone
Don Arias Tenor
Don Alonzo Baritone

Setting: Eleventh Century Burgos, capital of Castille.


Rodrigue has returned from victory over the Moors, and the first act shows him receiving knighthood from King Ferdinand, at the house of Count Gormas, whose daughter, Chimène, is in love with the warrior. The King and his family approve, although the King’s daughter herself loves Rodrigue. The latter match, however, is impossible since the hero is not of royal blood. The King bestows upon Don Diego, father of Rodrigue, a governorship expected by Count Gormas. The enraged Count insults Don Diego, who, too old to fight, calls upon his son to uphold his honor—without naming his adversary.

Although grieved upon learning his adversary’s identity, Rodrigue is obliged to go through with the duel, and more by accident than design kills the Count. Chimène swears vengeance.

The next scene takes piace in the great square before the palace of the King at Seville, where a crowd of merrymakers has gathered, for this is a festival day. In the midst of the revelry Chimène appears and begs the King to bring revenge upon Rodrigue. The King refuses, and learning that the Moors are advancing, bids her delay her vengeance until the close of the campaign, for Rodrigue is to lead the Spanish forces. Before departing, Rodrigue gains an interview with Chimène, and finds that her love is as strong as her desire for retribution.

At first seemingly near defeat, Rodrigue prays and resigns his fate to Providence. Then there is a sudden turn of fortune and the Spaniards are victorious.

First reports come that the army has been defeated and its leader slain. Chimène has her revenge, but is prostrated with grief and fervently declares her love. A second report reverses the news and Rodrigue returns to find his beloved still implacable. The King, shrewdly enough, now promises Chimène he will punish the warrior, but Solomon-like asks her to pronounce the death sentence. This unexpected decision causes her once more to change her mind, and when Rodrigue draws his dagger and threatens to end his own life if she will not wed him, she is compelled to acknowledge that Love is triumphant.

[Synopsis Source: The Victor Book of the Opera (10th ed. 1929)]

Click here for the complete libretto.