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Justin Holland
Scraps from the Operas arranged for Two Guitars

No. 18 - Vespers Siciliennes


Justin Holland, Scraps From The Operas

Opera: Les Vêpres Siciliennes (The Sicilian Vespers)
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Premiere: Paris, 1855.
Note: On the cover page the title is given as "Vespers Siciliennes" and on the music pages as "Les Vêspres Siciliennes", neither one quite right.

Scrap 1: Tempo di Barcarolle.

In Act 2 of 5, the French oppressors have abducted all the brides at a mass wedding of Sicilians. Adding insult, this barcarolle is heard coming from a boat bearing French officers and nobleman and Sicilian ladies to a ball at the palace. The chorus on the boat sing, Del piacer s'avanza l'ora ("The hour of pleasure approaches!"), while the Sicilian patriots make plans to attend the ball in disguise and assassinate the Governor of Sicily.

Scrap 2 (1:36): Adagio.

In Act 3, Arrigo, a leader of the Sicilian movement, discovers he is the son of the detested Governor of Sicily. In spite of himself, he thwarts the assassination of the governor at the ball. The guilty parties are captured and sentenced to death. They sing this hymn to Sicily: Ah! patria adorata ("Ah! beloved fatherland, I leave you, prostrate in blood, in sorrow!") They also curse the apparent traitor Arrigo.

Scrap 3 (2:29): Allegretto.

In Act 5, in the gardens of the Governor's palace, knights and maidens celebrate the upcoming wedding of Arrigo and Elena that will end so many sorrows: Si celebri alfine ("Let us celebrate at last"). In fact, the tolling of the vesper bell will be a signal for the Sicilians to begin the slaughter of the French, starting with everyone at the wedding. That means everyone, including Arrigo and Elena.

PLAY OPERA SCRAP NO. 18 - "Vespers Siciliennes"

Next Opera Scrap: No. 19 - "Favorita"
Previous Opera Scrap: No. 17 - "Sonnambula"
Index of all 20 "Scraps From The Operas"


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