Music by Giuseppe Verdi
Venice: La Fenice Opera House
Conductor: Daniele Rustioni
Director: Johannes Weigand
Sets & Lights Designer: Guido Petzold
Costumes: Judith Fischer
Stiffelio ⎮ Stefano Secco
Lina ⎮ Julianna Di Giacomo
Stankar ⎮ Dimitri Platanias
Raffaele ⎮ Carlo Bosi
Jorg ⎮ Simon Lim
Dorotea ⎮ Elisabetta Martorana
Conductor ⎮ Daniele Rustioni
Director ⎮ Johannes Weigand
Sets & Lights Designer ⎮Guido Petzold
Costumes ⎮Judith Fischer
La Fenice Orchestra & Choir
Chorus Master ⎮ Claudio Marino Moretti
La Fenice Opera House new production
Stiffelio is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi, from an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, based on the French play Le pasteur, ou L’évangile et le foyer by Émile Souvestre and Eugène Bourgeois, which had been translated into Italian by Gaetano Vestri as Stifellius.
Verdi’s experience in Naples for Luisa Miller had not been a good one and he returned home to Busseto to consider the subject for his next opera. The idea for Stiffelio came from his librettist and, entering into a contract with his publisher, Ricordi, he agreed to proceed, leaving the decision as to the location of the premiere to Ricordi. This became the Teatro Grande (now the Teatro Comunale Giuseppe Verdi) in Trieste and, in spite of difficulties with the censors which resulted in cuts and changes, the opera – Verdi’s 16th – was first performed on 16 November 1850.
Scene 1: Hall within Count Stankar’s castle
Stifellio, who is a minister, is expected to arrive from a mission at any moment. Lina his wife and Stankar her father, as well as cousins Federico and Dorotea, eagerly await. Raffaele, Lina’s lover, also waits. Stiffelio arrives then talks about how his boatman had told of a couple escaping from a castle window. The boatman said that the couple dropped a packet of letters and he holds these letters in his hand. He refuses to open the letters and burns them. Lina and Raffaele are secretly relieved. The latter tells Lina that they can meet next, and the location, when he leaves instructions inside a locked book in their library. After the greetings are over, Stiffelio and Lina are left to themselves. He sings “She has no word for me, not a glance…” He talks about the sins he’s witnessed and sings “Everywhere I saw virtue groan beneath the oppressor’s yoke…” He notices that Lina’s wedding ring is not on her finger. He sings, angrily, “Ah, clearly written on your brow is the shame that wages war in your heart…” Stankar arrives to escort Stiffelio to some celebrations being arranged for him. Lina is alone and remorseful and she sings “Let my sighs and tears ascend to thee, O merciful God…”
Setting: Graveyard near castle
Lia visits her mother’s grave and prays, and she sings “Ah, from among the ethereal thrones, where, blessed, you take your seat…” Raffaele joins her. She asks him to leave and he is sad. He sings “Lina, then you wish to destroy this unhappy, betrayed wretch…” He refuses to leave and sings “I stay…” Stankar arrives, tells his daughter to leave and challenges Raffaele to duel with him. Stiffelio arrives and tells them that they can’t fight in a cemetery. He tries to reconcile the pair by joining both of the men’s hands together in a peaceful gesture. Stankar tells Stiffelio that he’s now touched the hand of the man who betrayed him. Stiffelio doesn’t understand and wants the mystery explained further. Lina returns and demands forgiveness from Stiffelio and then the latter starts to understand the situation. He sings “It cannot be! Tell me at least that it is a lie!” He wants more explanation and challenges Raffaelo as he is poised to strike the younger man. Jorg arrives on the scene because he wants the priest to go to the church, as he points out the congregation waiting and singing for him. Stiffelio is conflicted and he drops his sword and ask for inspiration from God so he can give a good sermon. At the same time, he curses his wife.
Scene 1: Room – Count Stankar’s Castle
As he’s alone in his room, Stankar looks at a letter which says that Raffaele has fled and asked Lina to join him. He’s in despair and distraught over his daughter’s behavior, and sings “Lina, I thought that in you an angel brought me heavenly bliss”. He thinks about committing suicide and starts to write a letter to Stiffelio. Jorg enters the scene and says he’s tracked down Raffaele and that the latter will be returning to the castle. Stankar is joyous and sings “Oh, the inexpressible joy that floods this heart of mine!” He sees sweet revenge within reach and leaves.