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Ernani is an operatic dramma lirico in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, based on the play Hernani by Victor Hugo. The first production took place at La Fenice Theatre, Venice on March 9, 1844. In 1904 it became the first opera to be recorded complete.


Performance history

The UK premiere took place at Her Majesty's Theatre in London on 8 March 1845 followed on 13 April 1847 by its US premiere in New York.[1]

Today, Ernani is a seldom-heard work, although it appeared on the roster of the Metropolitan Opera as early as 1903 and has been given eighty-eight performances up to the March/April stagings in 2008. It regained some popularity from the early-1980s onward and was revived in a series of new productions at the San Francisco Opera (1982), Lyric Opera of Chicago (1984), at La Scala (1984) and the Met (1985), the 2008 stagings being the first since that time. It was given as part of the 1997 season of the Sarasota Opera's "Verdi Cycle" which plans to present all of Verdi's operas before the bi-centenary of his birth in 2013. The Teatro Regio di Parma, another company with a similar aim, gave it in October 2005.[2]

Recently, it was given in May 2008 by Opera Boston, a company which presents unusual or rarely staged works, and the Melbourne City Opera presented it in late March and early April 2009. It also is part of the Lyric Opera of Chicago's 2009/10 season in October/November 2009.



Act 1

Mountains of Aragon

The bandits demand the reason for Ernani's gloom. (Chorus: Eviva! Beviam! Beviam! / "To you we drink" and Ernani pensoso! / "Ernani, so gloomy? Why, oh strong one, does care sit on your brow?"). Ernani replies (Recitative: "Thanks, dear friends"; Cavatina: Come rugiada al cespite / "As the flower turns to the sun") that he loves Elvira, who is about to be married against her will to old Gomez de Silva (O tu che l'alma adora). He asks the bandits to abduct her.

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