Jules Massenet: Le Cid

Music composed by Jules Massenet. Libretto by Adolphe d’Ennery, Edouard
Blau and Louis Gallet based on Le Cid (1637) by Pierre Corneille.

First Performance: 30 November 1885, OpÈra, Paris.

Principal Characters:
ChimËne, daughter of Count Gormas Soprano
L’Infante, Daughter of Don Fernand Soprano
Rodrigue (Le Cid) Tenor
Don DiËgue (Don Diego), father of Rodrigue Bass
Le Roi, Don Fernand, King of Castille Baritone
Le Comte de Gormas (Count Gormas) Bass
Sr. Jacques Bass
L’EnvoyÈ Maure Baritone
Don Arias Tenor
Don Alonzo Baritone

Setting: Eleventh Century Burgos, capital of Castille.


Rodrigue has returned from victory over the Moors, and the first act shows
him receiving knighthood from King Ferdinand, at the house of Count Gormas,
whose daughter, ChimËne, is in love with the warrior. The King and his
family approve, although the King’s daughter herself loves Rodrigue. The
latter match, however, is impossible since the hero is not of royal blood.
The King bestows upon Don Diego, father of Rodrigue, a governorship expected
by Count Gormas. The enraged Count insults Don Diego, who, too old to fight,
calls upon his son to uphold his honor—without naming his adversary.

Although grieved upon learning his adversary’s identity, Rodrigue is
obliged to go through with the duel, and more by accident than design kills
the Count. ChimËne swears vengeance.

The next scene takes piace in the great square before the palace of the
King at Seville, where a crowd of merrymakers has gathered, for this is a
festival day. In the midst of the revelry ChimËne appears and begs the King
to bring revenge upon Rodrigue. The King refuses, and learning that the Moors
are advancing, bids her delay her vengeance until the close of the campaign,
for Rodrigue is to lead the Spanish forces. Before departing, Rodrigue gains
an interview with ChimËne, and finds that her love is as strong as her
desire for retribution.

At first seemingly near defeat, Rodrigue prays and resigns his fate to
Providence. Then there is a sudden turn of fortune and the Spaniards are

First reports come that the army has been defeated and its leader slain.
ChimËne has her revenge, but is prostrated with grief and fervently declares
her love. A second report reverses the news and Rodrigue returns to find his
beloved still implacable. The King, shrewdly enough, now promises ChimËne he
will punish the warrior, but Solomon-like asks her to pronounce the death
sentence. This unexpected decision causes her once more to change her mind,
and when Rodrigue draws his dagger and threatens to end his own life if she
will not wed him, she is compelled to acknowledge that Love is triumphant.

[Synopsis Source: The Victor Book of the Opera (10th ed.

here for the complete libretto

image_description=El Cid [Photo by Anna Hyatt Huntington]
first_audio_name=Jules Massenet: Le Cid
product_title=Jules Massenet: Le Cid
product_by=ChimËne: BÈatrice Uria-Monzon; L’infante: Kimy McLaren; Rodrigue: Roberto Alagna; Don DiËgue: Francesco Ellero D’Artegna; Le roi: Franco Pomponi; Saint-Jacques de Compostelle/L’Èmissaire Maure: Bernard Imbert. Orchestre et Chœur de l’OpÈra de Marseille. Direction musicale: Jacques Lacombe. Mise en scËne: Charles Roubaud. Assistant: Bernard Monforte. DÈcors: Emmanuelle Favre. Costumes: Katia Duflot. Live performance, Marseilles, 17 June 2011.
product_id=Above: El Cid [Photo by Anna Hyatt Huntington]