Elza van den Heever sings Elvira in Verdi’s Ernani, in concert on January 20 & 22 at Oper Frankfurt. Ms. van den Heever is joined by an illustrious international cast, including Alfred Kim in the title role and Quinn Kelsey as Don Carlos, with conductor Simone Young leading the Frankfurter Opern und Museumsorchester and Oper Frankfurt Chorus.
Plot synopsis from Oper Frankfurt: Three men are squabbling over the heart of the beautiful Elvira: her uncle, the vindictive, ageing, Spanish Grande Don Ruy Gomez de Silva, an aristocratic scion, Ernani, whose affections she returns, who travels around with a band of robbers, and the hot-blooded Spanish King, Carlos who, after being elected German Emperor, turns into a wise, noble and self sacrificing do-gooder. When a happy end for the two lovers seems almost within reach, an abstruse sense of honour ruins everything.
After Giuseppe Verdi’s first big success with Nabucco in 1842 he wanted to explore new avenues: for Ernani, written for La Fenice in Venice, he chose a play by Victor Hugo, not by chance a key French romantic work. In the foreword to his 1827 verse drama Cromwell, Hugo drew up a manifesto for a new literary movement which turned its back, once and for all, on classical aesthetics and looked back with renewed interest to the past values of Shakespeare, to perverse, horrible, grotesque driven extremes. Inspired by the vascillating, fragile characters in Hugo’s Hernani ou L’Honneur castillian, Verdi created an exciting opera, breathing life into the inwardly torn figures on stage.