Hélène longs for vengeance on Montfort, who murdered her brother. She enlists the help of her lover, Henri, and the rebel Procida – although Henri will discover that Montfort is his father.
Against his wishes, Henri betrays his friends to save his father. In return for Henri’s acceptance, Montfort pardons Hélène and Procida. But Procida remains determined to destroy Montfort. Wedding bells give the signal for a desperate act that destroys them all.
Stefan Herheim’s production of Verdi’s French grand opera Les Vêpres siciliennes (The Sicilian Vespers) was The Royal Opera’s first, created in 2013 to mark the composer’s bicentenary. This epic, five-act work was Verdi’s first written specifically for the Paris Opéra, and in it he fully embraces the elaborate style and traditions of the grand opera genre, while remaining true to his own inimitable style. The result is thrillingly ambitious, including impressive choruses, passionate duets and spectacular showpiece arias for the four principals.
Herheim relocates the action to the time of the opera’s 1855 premiere, in the opulence of the Paris Opéra for which it was written. Set designs by Philipp Fürhofer provide a visually stunning setting for Verdi’s intense drama of personal and political tragedies. The production was acclaimed at its premiere, with The Telegraph writing, ‘executed at every artistic level with terrific flair and verve, this is grand opera at its grandest – a gorgeous visual and musical treat’.
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