Opera Scotland

Ernani Ernani

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Giuseppe Verdi (Born Le Roncole, 10 October 1813; died Milan, 27 January 1901)


Francesco Maria Piave


Tragedy Hernani (1830) by Victor Hugo (1802-1885)



First Performance: Venice (Teatro la Fenice), 9 March 1844.

First Performance in UK: London (Her Majesty's Theatre), 8 March 1845.

First Performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Theatre Royal), 28 January 1856.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.



Ernani was Verdi's fifth opera, but the first to be premiered away from his home theatre of La Scala, Milan. A success was therefore of particular importance to Verdi's future prospects. Even so, the extent of that success must have exceeded all expecations, and Ernani was quickly performed everywhere of significance. The opera remained one of his most popular for the next thirty years or so. However, it disappeared from the repertoire for several decades. But iin spite of the undoubted weakness of the plot, the work's wonderful melodic richness has ensured many successful revivals in recent years, though it has not yet enjoyed a professional staging in Scotland.


Main characters

Don Carlos, King of Castile (baritone)

Ernani, a bandit (tenor)

Don Ruy Gomez da Silva, Elvira's guardian (bass)

Elvira, a Spanish lady (soprano)


Plot Summary

Elvira loves Ernani, who is in fact a nobleman, Don Juan of Aragon, previouly banished by the King. She is reluctantly about to marry her elderly guardian. The King himself also covets her, and when he arranges her abduction that pushes Ernani and Silva into establishing a conspiracy against him in order to rescue Elvira. For reasons best known to himself, Ernani seals the bargain with Silva by giving him a hunting horn. He swears that if, at any time in the future Silva should sound this horn, then Ernani will immediately kill himself. Following his election as Holy Roman Emperor (the Emperor Charles V), Carlo pardons the conspirators, but further infuriates Silva by agreeing to Elvira's marriage with Ernani. As the nuptials are being celebrated, Ernani hears an ominous horn call, and to Elvira's horror and Silva's pleasure, takes out a knife and stabs himself.

The Cast

Don Carlo
 King of Castile
Don Riccardo
 adviser to the king
Don Ruy Gomez da Silva
 a Spanish grandee, Elvira's guardian
 Silva's niece
 a bandit chief, in fact Don Juan of Aragon
 Elvira's duenna
 Silva's steward

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