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Les Vêpres siciliennes to be screened live in cinemas across the world on 4 November

Production photos and background information ahead of the live relay.

By Lottie Butler (Former Assistant Content Producer (News and Social Media))

30 October 2013 at 3.39pm | 7 Comments

Stefan Herheim's new Royal Opera production of Verdi's Les Vêpres siciliennes will be relayed live in cinemas across the globe on Monday 4 November.

Les Vêpres siciliennes was Verdi’s first grand opera. Originally written for the Paris Opéra, it follows in the tradition of French grand opera laid out by Meyerbeer. Though a huge success on its premiere (it was performed some 62 times in Paris in its first year alone), it failed to gain a place in the Paris Opéra’s repertory and as a result is one of Verdi’s lesser known works. This is the first time the opera has been performed at the Royal Opera House and promises to be a unique opportunity to see an operatic rarity.

The Story

Set amidst the turmoil of the French occupation of Sicily, Les Vêpres siciliennes is a tale of revenge, family relations and patriotism. Hélène longs to avenge her brother’s death at the hands of the powerful Guy de Montfort and in her bid for vengeance, she turns to the partisan Jean Procida and the rebellious patriot Henri. However, Henri’s discovery that his life and Montfort’s are closely entwined throws him, Montfort and Hélène into confusion and turmoil.

The Production

Stefan Herheim’s production is set in a stylized version of the very opera house in which the opera had its premiere. In this way, the production not only depicts the emotional and political struggle between the French and Sicilians, but also the tension between artists and art, and those who use and abuse it.

Set-piece ballet was a crucial part of grand opera, and themes of dance and the seedy voyeurism associated with it in the nineteenth century are woven into the production with performances throughout by eight tutu-clad dancers. Find out more about the production.

For the production, Herheim worked closely with dramaturg Alexander Meier-Dörzenbach. Watch an interview with Alexander about the production.

The Music

Les Vêpres siciliennes has a richly varied and dramatic score, packed with dances, fiery choruses for the opposing French and Sicilian forces, large-scale duets and several atmospheric arias. Read about the duet between Henri and Montfort in Act III, just one of the musical highlights in the opera.

Find out more about Verdi’s composition process


Stefan Herheim’s production had its premiere at the Royal Opera House on 17 October, and was described in The Telegraph as a ‘gorgeous, visual and musical treat’. Read audience reactions to the opening night.

Following the cinema screening, we will publish a round-up of tweets so let us know your thoughts with the hashtag #ROHVepres 

Each cinema relay during the 2013/14 Season will see ROH productions screened live to over 1,000 cinemas in 38 countries. The live screening following Les Vêpres siciliennes will see The Royal Ballet's The Nutcracker screened live around the world on 12 December.  Find out more about this Season’s programme and find a screening near you.

By Lottie Butler (Former Assistant Content Producer (News and Social Media))

30 October 2013 at 3.39pm

This article has been categorised Opera, Screening and tagged by Stefan Herheim, cinema, cinemas, Film, Les Vêpres siciliennes, live relay, live screening, opera, Production, relay, screening, verdi

This article has 7 comments

  1. PetetheCheat responded on 30 October 2013 at 10:41pm Reply

    Poplavskaya misses the HD and cinema relay. I wonder if she had not gone on whilst still unwell on 21st October, too early in the course of recovery from her illness, she might have made it for the relay on 4th November.

  2. Tim Parrott responded on 4 November 2013 at 12:16pm Reply

    Please publish in one place on your website a printable version of key programme information - cast, production credits etc, synopsis, background to the production, - to enable people to have sufficient information before attending the live relay. We can't buy a programme book like the audience at Covent Garden!

  3. I think Stefan Herheim is the most interesting opera director of these last years!

  4. A. Saxton responded on 5 November 2013 at 2:29pm Reply

    I greatly enjoyed therelay of 'Vepres' last night at the Kensington Odeon. One question, though: why no subtitles? Several people walked out after a few minutes, and I myself, though a life-long Francophone, could follow only odd words or phrases of the text as sung by a non-French cast. At the first interval, the manager came on to explain that ROH had requested that subtitles be suppressed. For heaven's sake, why? This is an unfamiliar work, best known in Italian, ergo in need of clarification. I arrived too late for the introductory film, maybe some clue was there? Anyway, a vote was taken, subtitles turned on, and - surprise, surprise - I could catch far more of the text. Don't do this again for 'Parsifal'!!

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 6 November 2013 at 10:18am


      Sorry about the technical issue you experienced. There was an internal communication error at Odeon whereby a note was sent by the chain's head office to all their sites asking for subtitles to be kept off for technical reasons.

      We're working with Odeon to ensure this doesn't happen again. Apologies for your experience.

      ROH Content Producer

  5. John Edwards responded on 7 December 2013 at 2:44pm Reply

    The recording made on Nov 4 was shown here in Sydney on Dec 4 (and other dates) one month later, yet we were constantly exhorted to tweet our responses. No doubt the promoters of tweeting really believe that this adds to the show by reinforcing the "mutual experience" of the far-flung "world audience." But this can only be done by excluding major sectors of this so-called "world audience," those of us who live in time zones where we CANNOT participate live. To put it the other way, this week I am listening to live radio broadcasts of the Melbourne Wagner Ring - these also are available online at the ABC Classic FM website. Walkure and Siegfried start at 5 pm and Twilight at 4 pm. Hands up all those Brits who will be getting up at 6 am and 5 am to listen online? Now imagine if you had to go to a cinema to watch at that hour. This is NEVER going to change and it affects not just Australasia but East Asian countries like Japan and (in the opposite way) the west coast of USA & Canada. How absurd then was it to hear the CEO of ROH claim in the interval that "We've had tweets from all around the world." Yes, there was spectacular coverage from Ireland to Slovenia but NOTHING from USA, Asia or Australia. Now, I know we were invited to tweet posthumously (i.e. after the live broadcast) but it is hardly the same one month later!! I know Europe thinks it is The World and The World is Europe, but it is about time you thought a little more globally than Charlemagne.

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