Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Premiered: November 22, 1862 - Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre, St. Petersburg
Setting of La forza del distino:
Verdi's La forza del distino
takes place in 1750s Spain..
Other Verdi Opera Synopses:
, La Traviata
, & Il Trovatore
The Story of La forza del distino
La forza del distino, Act 1
In the mansion of The Marquis of Calatrava, Leonora tells her father goodnight as he leaves her bedroom. Confiding in her maid, Curra, Leonora tells her that she plans to elope with her lover, Don Alvaro, despite her father's dislike of him. Alvaro is of Incan decent, so she must decide to either leave her home country to be with him or give up her love of him and stay with her father. Leonora is conflicted and confused, but Alvaro, who has climbed into her room from the balcony, assures her that she will be happy and content after they elope. Moments later, Leonora's father, the Marquis, bursts into the room with sword in hand after having heard noises in the courtyard. He finds Alvaro with Leonora and challenges him to a duel. Alvaro, wanting there to be no suspicion or question of Leonora's purity, surrenders himself to the Marquis by throwing his gun to the floor. When the gun hits the floor, it accidentally discharges and kills the Marquis. As he dies, he curses his daughter. Leonora and Alvaro escape the castle, fearful for their lives.
La forza del distino, Act 2
After fleeing from her father's castle, Leonora arrives at an inn in the village of Hornachuelos, having been separated from Alvaro. Before she enters, she is not aware that the Alcalde (the mayor), muleteers, and her brother, Don Carlo, are staying at the inn. Don Carlo has disguised himself as a student, attempting to hunt down his sister and Alvaro in order to exact revenge. Leonora disguises herself as a man before entering the inn with a muleteer named Trabuco she came across in route to the village. She instantly recognizes her brother, but is able to get by without being recognized herself. The men in the inn joke and ridicule with Trabuco about the small size of his friend. Preziosilla, a gypsy woman, begins telling the fortunes of the men, hoping to lighten their spirits before the upcoming battle with the Germans, who the men are about to fight for the freedom of Italy. She points out to Don Carlo and tells him he is not a student. Meanwhile, Leonora thinks of a way to escape from her brother's wrath. A group of people arrive, stopping in for the night, on their way to celebrate Holy Week. After they begin to pray, the mayor persuades Don Carlo to tell his story of how his "friend's" father was killed by the hand of his sister's lover.
Outside the town church, Leonora, still in mens clothing, prays to the Virgin Mary and asks for forgiveness. When she finishes her prayer, she rings the monastery bell. Brother Melitone greets her and tries to send her away until the following morning. She tells him that she has been sent by Father Cleto to see the Father Superior. Melitone quickly departs and Father Superior returns. Leonora tells him her true identity and requests that she be allowed to live as a hermit in a cave, devoting herself and life to God. When she tells him that her brother seeks to kill her, he agrees to her request.
La forza del distino, Act 3
Outside of the Italian town of Velletri, a group of soldiers gamble. Alvaro, who believes Leonora to be dead, prays to her and seeks her pity. When he hears the screams of a fellow soldier, he instinctively goes to rescue him. When he returns with the soldier, it is Don Carlo. However, both men have taken different names and neither of them are aware of each others identity. Don Carlo thanks him from saving him from the angry group of gambling soldiers. They shake hands and swear to protect each other, both in life and death, and they rush off to battle.
Inside the officers quarters, Alvaro is brought in on a stretcher. He asks Don Carlo to burn his personal belongings when he dies. As he is taken into the operating room, Don Carlo starts shuffling through Alvaro's things. Little by little, he pieces together Alvaro's true identity, especially when he finds a picture of his sister, Leonora. Just then, it is announced that Alvaro will live. Don Carlo takes pleasure in hearing the news as he swears to have revenge.
Months go by, and the recovered Alvaro crosses paths with Don Carlo. Don Carlo reveals his identity and challenges him to fight. Alvaro pleads for peace, saying that they should, instead, devote their time to finding Leonora. Don Carlo does not relent and the two friends begin fighting. They are pulled apart by a passing patrol. Alvaro, with nowhere else to go, vows to take up a monastic life. A large group of villagers and soldiers pass by, with Preziosilla doling out fortunes and Trabuco selling wares. Preziosilla sings a chorus praising the military life as she bangs on a drum hanging around her neck.
La forza del distino, Act 4
Five year's have passed, and Alvaro has been living in a Spanish monastery under the name of Rafaello. It happens to be the same monastery where Leonora has taken shelter in a nearby cave. Melitone and Father Superior are feeding the poor when the gate bell rings. Don Carlo has arrived seeking for Father Rafaello. Don Carlo is still consumed with rage and revenge. Alvaro tries to remain peaceful, but Don Carlo is able to draw the anger out of him. The two men depart the monastery in search of a place to duel.
The two men fight several yards away from Leonora's cave. She emerges to pray for peace, still tormented by her love of Alvaro and the loss of her father. When she hears the men fighting, she runs back into her cave. Moments later, Alvaro shouts down into the cave asking for the hermit to give absolution to the man he has just mortally wounded. Leonora recognizes his voice immediately. When she appears, he is filled with remorse for having killed another member of her family. She runs out of the cave and quickly makes her way to her brother. As she leans over him to pray, Don Carlo musters all his remaining strength and pierces her heart with his sword. Don Carlo dies and Alvaro holds on to Leonora. Father Superior arrives and tries to calm Alvaro's spirit. Leonora dies as Father Superior and Alvaro pray over her.