First performance: 10 November 1862 at the Imperial Theatre, St.
Time and Place
|Il Marchese di
figlia del Marchese
|Don Carlo di
Vargas, figlio del Marchese
cameriera di Leonora
mulattiere, poi rivendugliolo
Spain and Italy about the mid-18th Century.
A room in the country house of the Marchese of Calatrava
The Marchese bids his daughter Leonora an affectionate goodnight, assuring her that the country air will help her to forget the unworthy
stranger (who has aspired to her hand). Leonora, on the point of
eloping with Don Alvaro, the stranger, is seized with remorse, thinking
mournfully of her life when parted forever from her country and her
family, while her maid Curra tries to encourage her to pack, warning
her of the fate which attends Alvaro if she were to yield to the
temptation of confessing to her father.
When Alvaro arrives, she is still reluctant to leave, asking him to
delay by one day, so she can see her father again; but when Alvaro
accuses her of not loving him, she responds to his passion and prepares
to elope. But they are surprised by the Marchese and servants. Swearing
that Leonora is pure, Alvaro offers his breast to the Marchese, who
disdains to kill one he considers beneath him. Alvaro throws his pistol
to the floor and it goes off, killing the Marchese, who dies cursing
daughter. Leonora and Alvaro flee.
. The inn of the village of Hornachuelos
Arriving at the inn disguised as a man, Leonora hides when she sees her
brother, Don Carlo, among the crowd waiting for supper. Don Carlo,
disguised as a student, begins to interrogate the muleteer Trabuco
about the identity of the person he brought to the inn (Leonora), but
is interrupted by the arrival of the gypsy Preziosilla on her way to
join the Spanish army fighting in Italy. After a rousing call to arms,
she offers to tell fortunes, and sees misfortune in Carlo's hand, and
also makes it clear that she knows he is not what he says he is.
A procession of pilgrims passes on its way to the monastery of
Hornachuelos and the company joins in the prayer. Carlo continues to
question Trabuco about the sex of the traveller, and even suggests
painting a moustache on his face as he sleeps, until restrained by the
mayor, who asks him to account for himself. His name is Pereda, he
answers, a student from Salamanca, who had accompanied his friend Don
Carlo di Vargas in search of his sister and her foreign lover who had
killed their father; Carlo has gone to (South) America and he will
return to his studies. All go to bed.
. Outside the monastery of Hornachuelos in the mountains
Leonora reaches her goal, the monastery, terrified to have recognised
her brother and heard him tell her story. She also heard him say that
Don Alvaro, whom she had thought killed in the confusion on the night
of the failed elopement, is alive and has gone to South America; and
believes that he has deserted her. She rings the bell and manages to
convince the reluctant porter, brother Melitone, of her urgent need to
see the Padre Guardiano.
To the Padre Guardiano she reveals her identity. She had been sent to
him by her confessor, as she wishes to follow the example of another
woman and live as a hermit in a cave not far from the monastery. After
some reluctance, he consents and calls the monks to prayer, to give her
his blessing and state to her and the brothers (who do not know she is
a woman) the conditions of her future life: she is to see no one and
remain undisturbed; he will leave food for her and only in extreme
danger or at the hour of her death is she to ring a bell to summon him.
. In Italy, near Velletri during the War of the Austrian
As soldiers carouse in the background, Don Alvaro reveals in a
soliloquy that he is the son of a Spaniard who had married the daughter
of the last of the Incas and tried to free Peru from Spanish rule. His
parents had been defeated, put in prison, where Alvaro was born, and
executed, while he was brought up in the wilderness. Unaware that
Leonora is still alive, he prays to her to look down on him from
Disturbed by sounds of quarrelling and a cry for help, he rescues Don
Carlo from the consequences of a quarrel over a game of cards. Excusing
himself for being in such low company, on the grounds that he is but
recently arrived, Carlo identifies himself as Don Felice de Bornos,
aide-de-camp to the general, and Alvaro gives in reply the name he has
assumed, Don Federico, Herreros, captain of grenadiers and, as Carlo
exclaims in delight, the pride of the army. The two swear eternal
friendship and go into battle together.
Alvaro is wounded and Carlo exhorts the surgeon to save him, promising
Alvaro the order of Calatrava for his bravery. Feeling death near,
Alvaro begs Carlo to burn unopened a packet of documents he will find
among his possessions, and Carlo swears to obey; but while the surgeon
is operating, doubts occur, spurred by Alvaro's horrified reaction to
the name of Calatrava. He is tempted to open the packet, but his sense
of honor restrains him. But near the packet he finds a portrait of
Leonora and his suspicions are confirmed, and he receives with joy the
news that Alvaro will live — so that he can kill him.
. The camp near Velletri
The sun rises on bustling camp activity. Among those present is
Preziosilla, telling fortunes, Trabuco, trafficking with the soldiers,
and Melitone, reproving everyone for pagan goings-on on Sunday. When
the soldiers turn on him, Preziosilla averts their wrath by embarking
on a rousing rataplan.
. The courtyard of the monastery of Hornachuelos five years
Brother Melitone is dispensing food to the poor, complaining as he does
so, so that they compare him unfavourably with the charitable Father
Raffaele. When they have gone he discusses Father Raffaele with the
Father Superior, explaining that he seems more like the devil than a
member of a monastic order.
Don Carlo knocks at the gate asking for Father Raffaele (Alvaro) and
when they are alone confronts him, wishing to resume the interrupted
duel — he has even brought two swords. But Alvaro has
the world and tries to avoid the conflict. Rising to Carlo's taunt on
his ancestry, he gains control of himself, but a blow cannot be
overlooked and they run off to fight to the death.
. A mountain gorge near a cave in the vicinity of the monastery
Leonora, dressed as a hermit, appears from the cave, praying for peace
of mind: she has been unable to forget Don Alvaro.
The sound of fighting disturbs her and she calls an imprecation on the
heads of those disturbing her holy refuge. But the voice of the dying
Carlo is heard calling for confession and Alvaro comes to beg the
hermit to give him the last rites. They recognise one another and
Alvaro tells her her brother lies dying. She goes to him, but he stabs
her as he dies.
As she reappears, supported by the Padre Guardiano, Alvaro curses his
fate and heaven, but is reproved by the Padre Guardiano, and Leonora
assures him that heaven will pardon him. As she dies, Alvaro laments
that he, the guilty one, lives on.
here for the complete libretto.