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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.

Introduction

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.

Background

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

On Wikipedia

A scene from the Italian version of the opera

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.

Abstract taken from the Wikipedia article Les vêpres siciliennes, available under a Creative Commons license.