The French have occupied Sicily, and Hélène is held hostage by Montfort, the French governor, who has had her brother executed. She turns to the partisan Jean Procida and the rebellious patriot Henri in her bid for vengeance.
News and features
5 November 2013
Another chance to see the backstage films screened as part of our live cinema relay.
4 November 2013
What did you think of the live relay of Stefan Herheim’s Royal Opera production?
30 October 2013
Production photos and background information ahead of the live relay.
18 October 2013
A quick guide to Verdi's first grand opera.
18 October 2013
What did you think of Stefan Herheim's production of Verdi's grand opera?
15 October 2013
A look at the opera as part of a distinguished operatic tradition.
Les Vêpres siciliennes is one of Verdi’s lesser-known mature operas, but was vital to his development as a composer. It was created for the Paris Opéra in 1855, providing Verdi with an opportunity to embrace the elaborate style and traditions of French grand opera.
Stefan Herheim brings Verdi’s tale of revenge, family relations and patriotism to Covent Garden for the first time. His imaginative production draws parallels between the opera and the opera house for which it was written, including a spectacular re-creation of the Paris Opéra itself. Musically, the work contains impressive choruses, passionate duets and some wonderful showpiece arias for the principal singers. Particular highlights include Procida’s aria on returning to Sicily ‘Et toi, Palerme’, the Act IV duet ‘De courroux et d’effroi’ in which Hélène expresses her sympathy for Henri’s dilemma and Hélène’s brilliant Act V boléro, ‘Merci, jeunes amis’.