Music composed by Vincenzo Bellini. Libretto by Felice Romani after
Bertram, ou le Chateau de S.t Aldobrand (1821) by Charles Nodier and
Isidore Justin Severin Taylor, a French adaptation of Bertram; or The
Castle of St. Aldobrand (1816) by Charles Maturin.
First Performance: 27 October 1827, Teatro alla Scala,
|Ernesto, Duke of Caldora
|Imogene, his wife
|Gualtiero, former Count of Montalto
|Itulbo, Gualtiero’s lieutenant
|Goffredo, a hermit, once tutor to Gualtiero
|Adele, Imogene’s companion
Setting: Sicily, 13th Century.
On a stormy sea-shore, fisherfolk watch a shipwreck. Among the survivors
is Gualtiero, who is recognised and offered refuge by Goffredo. Gualtiero
tells him that he drew strength from his continuing love for Imogene (“Nel
furor delle tempeste”), although she is now married to Ernesto. She arrives
to offer hospitality to the shipwrecked strangers, but Gualtiero does not
reveal himself, and Imogene assumes from what Itulbo tells her that he is
dead. She tells Adele that she dreamt that he had been killed by her husband
(“Lo sognai ferito, esangue”).
At night, Itulbo warns the strangers not to reveal that they are the
pirates who have been pursued by Ernesto. Meanwhile, Imogene is strangely
fascinated by Goffredo’s guest, who soon reveals to her who he really is.
Gualtiero learns that she had married Ernesto only because he had threatened
her father’s life, and when he sees that she has borne Ernesto’s child, he
starts to think of revenge (“Pietosa al padre”).
Ernesto and his men celebrate victory over the pirates (“SÏ, vincemmo”),
but he is annoyed that Imogene is not celebrating, too. He questions Itulbo
(who pretends to be the pirates’ chief) about Gualtiero’s fate, and the act
ends with all the principals expressing their conflicting emotions, though
Goffredo manages to restrain Gualtiero from giving his identity away.
Adele tells Imogene that Gualtiero wishes to see her before he leaves.
Ernesto accuses Imogene of being unfaithful to him, but she defends herself
by saying that her continuing love for Gualtiero is based solely on her
remembrance of their past encounters. Ernesto is inclined to take her word
for it, but, when he is told that Gualtiero is being sheltered in his own
castle, he is consumed by rage.
Despite Itulbo’s pleas, Gualtiero meets Imogene again before he leaves.
Their acceptance of the situation alternates with passionate declarations of
love, and Ernesto, arriving, conceals himself and overhears the end of their
duet. He is discovered, and exits with Gualtiero, each determined to fight to
It is Ernesto who is killed. Gualtiero, to the amazement of Ernesto’s
retainers, gives himself up to justice, and, as he is taken away, he prays
that Imogene may forgive him (“Tu vedrai la sventurata”). She appears in a
state of anguish and sees visions of her dead husband and her son (“Col
sorriso d’innocenza … Oh sole, ti vela di tenebre oscure”). Meanwhile, the
Council of Knights has condemned Gualtiero to death.
[Synopsis Source: Wikipedia]