Opera Scotland

Oberto, conte di San Bonifacio Oberto, Count San Bonifacio

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Giuseppe Verdi (born Busseto, 10 October 1813; died Milan, 27 January 1901)


Antonio Piazza, rev. by Temistocle Solera.





First performance: Milan (Teatro alla Scala), 17 November 1839.

First UK performance: London (St Pancras Town Hall), 8 April 1965 (concert).

First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Usher Hall), 26 August 1993 (concert).

Scottish Opera premiere: N/A.



Verdi began his career as he ended it, with a staging at La Scala – an astonishingly prestigious start to any operatic career. The first piece he worked on, entitled Rocester, and set in Britain, was never performed, and little is known about it. The general assumption made is that any existing music was incorporated into Oberto or perhaps later works. The new opera was successful enough to result in a follow-up commission, and it already sounds astonishingly like real Verdi, full of energy, even if it is clearly an immature work.

One interesting footnote is that in the premiere at La Scala, the role of Cuniza was taken by an English contralto, Mary Shaw, who had arrived in Italy earlier in the year.



Cuniza, sister of Ezzelino da Romano (mezzo-soprano)

Riccardo, conte di Salinguerra (tenor)

Oberto, conte di San Bonifacio (bass)

Leonora, Oberto’s daughter (soprano)

Imelda, Cuniza’s confidante (mezzo-soprano)


Plot Summary

The plot is located in northern Italy in 1228. Oberto has lost a battle against the forces of Ezzelino. During his subsequent exile, Oberto’s daughter Leonora is seduced by Riccardo, who then abandons her in order to marry Cuniza, sister of the victorious Ezzelino. When Oberto is reunited with his daughter, they plan their revenge. Leonora tells Cuniza of Riccardo’s behaviour and she decides against the planned marriage, instead forcing Riccardo to resume his original plan of marriage to Leonora. Oberto does not accept this, however, and challenges the younger man to a duel in which he is killed. Riccardo flees the scene, and Leonora resolves to enter a nunnery.

The Cast

 sister of Ezzelino da Romano
 Cuniza's confidante
 Oberto's daughter
 conte di San Bonifacio
 conte di Salinguerra

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