La forza del destino
Opera in four acts
Music Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto Francesco Maria Piave based on the drama Don Alvaro, o La fuerza del
sino by Angel de Saavedra
Stage director Elijah Moshinsky (UK)
Set designer Andrei Voitenko after the original designs of Andreas Roler
forthe premiere in St.Petersburg in 1862
Costume designer Peter J.Hall (UK)
Premiere 7 July 1998
Gioseppe Verdi had established himself in Russia even before he created La forza
del destino in 1862. Moscow and St.Petersburg were the first European capitals to
follow Rome, Milan and Venice and stage Rigoletto, La traviata, Un ballo in maschera and
Il trovatore. Verdi’s reputation in Russia was confirmed in June 1861, when
thedirector of the Imperial Theatres invited “Maestro Cavalier Verdi” to write an opera
for the 1861/62 season.
Verdi’s choice of subject alighted on Don Alvaro, o La fuerza del sino, a
romantic drama by the Spanish playwright Angel Perez de Saavedra. The opera was completed
at the end of 1861,with a libretto written by Francesco Maria Piave. The composer came
toRussia for the premiere, which took place at the Bolshoi Theatre in St. Petersburg on
La forza del destino met a mixed reception in Russia. The opera was staged at a
time when Russian musical life was ferment, at height of the battle for the establishment
of a national Russian school of opera in opposition to the prevailing “Italomania”.
While acknowledging Verdi’s undeniable talent and describing the composer as “the
voice of modern Italy”, many Russian critics found the opera wearisomely long. The
composer obviously took heed of these critical reviews, for his biographer writes that
Laforza del destino marked “the beginning of a great awakening of thought and creative
forces in Verdi”. Unsatisfied with the melodramatic ending, Verdi and the librettist
Antonio Ghislanzoni significantly altered the storyline. The premiere of the new version
in Milan in 1869 was more successful and La forza del destino was taken up by
operahouses all over Europe.
The Russian stage premiere of the Milan version was held at the Kirov Theatre in 1963.
TheKirov returned to La forza del desino again in 1985, with a production
thatincluded scenes from both versions. Finally, the opera was performed in Italian in
theoriginal St. Petersburg version – for the first time since the world premiere in 1862
– in a concert performance conducted by Valery Gergiev at the Mariinsky Theatre. In
1997, Phillips Classics brought out a recording of this version on CD.
The current stage version (premiere 7 July 1998, conductor Valery Gergiev, stage
directorElijah Moshinsky, set designer Anrei Voitenko after the original designs of
AndreasRoller) represents the culmination of painstaking work on the reconstruction of
theoriginal St. Petersburg version of 1862.