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I vespri sicilianiNew production

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OpernhausFalkenstrasse 1, Zürich, 8008, Switzerland
2020 June 21, 24, 27, July 01, 04, 07, 10 at 19:00
Performers
Zurich Opera
Fabio LuisiConductor
Calixto BieitoDirector
Aída-Leonor GuardiaSet Designer
Ingo KrüglerCostume Designer
Quinn KelseyBaritoneGuido di Monforte
Bryan HymelTenorArrigo
Maria AgrestaSopranoElena
Alexander VinogradovBassProcida
Oleg DavydofBassBethune
Leonardo SánchezTenorDanieli
Ildo SongBassRoberto
Franck EvinLighting Designer
Beate BreidenbachDramaturgy
Janko KastelicChoirmaster / chorus director
Zurich Opera Chorus
Philharmonia Zürich

The bloody massacre perpetrated by the Sicilians against French occupying troops on Easter Monday 1282 is known as the «Sicilian Vespers»; thousands of Frenchmen were killed. Ironically, Verdi and his librettist Eugène Scribe chose this conflict as a foil to the first opera that the Paris Opera had commissioned from Verdi, the Italian whose Rigoletto had already celebrated triumphs there. However, the historical background was not the focus of Verdi’s interest; his compositional mastery was inspired rather by the impossible love between the Sicilian Duchess Elena and the resistance fighter Arrigo, who learns that the hated leader of the occupying French is his own father. Torn between his love for Elena, his social ideals and his newly discovered family connections, Arrigo decides to thwart the assassination attempt on Guido de Montforte planned by the rebels; the revolutionaries, and with them, Arrigo’s lover Elena, are arrested. In order to prevent further bloodshed, as a sign of peace Montforte orders the marriage of Elena and Arrigo. However, Procida, a Sicilian doctor and leader of the rebels, has designated the sound of wedding bells as a signal for the massacre; Frenchmen and Sicilians alike perish in the ensuing carnage.

After the 1855 première in Paris, Les Vêpres Siciliennes was translated into Italian, and the opera established itself internationally as I vespri siciliani. It contains the themes that occupied Verdi throughout his life: the dysfunctional father-son relationship, the loneliness of the powerful, and the incompatibility of private yearning and public obligations. Calixto Bieito and Fabio Luisi will be working together in Zurich for the first time. Quinn Kelsey returns to the Opera House as Montforte, Maria Agresta and Bryan Hymel are the tragic pair of lovers.

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