Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Les Vêpres siciliennes. It was last on stage 17 October—11 November 2013 as part of the Autumn 2013/14 season.
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.
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’.
News and features
19 November 2015
Composers have long experimented with different ways of giving a sense of community, often using the chorus to highly dramatic effect.
21 May 2015
The composer of La traviata, Macbeth and Otello consolidated and innovated the opera of his time.
12 February 2015
Lianna Haroutounian, Bryan Hymel, Michael Volle and Erwin Schrott star in Verdi’s rarely-performed opera.
5 December 2014
Curses, seduction and murder – why are operatic parties always doomed to end in tears?
Les Vêpres siciliennes, English Touring Opera and The Wind in the Willows win at 2014 Olivier Awards13 April 2014
The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet both represented at the awards.
5 November 2013
Another chance to see the backstage films screened as part of our live cinema relay.
Les vêpres siciliennes (The Sicilian Vespers) is a grand opéra in five acts by the Italian romantic composer Giuseppe Verdi set to a French libretto by Eugène Scribe and Charles Duveyrier from their work Le duc d'Albe, which was written in 1838. Les vêpres followed immediately after Verdi's three great mid-career masterpieces, Rigoletto, Il trovatore and La traviata of 1850 to 1853 and was first performed at the Paris Opéra on 13 June 1855. Today it is better-known in its post-1861 Italian version as I vespri siciliani and it is occasionally performed. The story is based on a historical event, the Sicilian Vespers of 1282, using material drawn from the medieval Sicilian tract Lu rebellamentu di Sichilia.