Opera-inside, la forza del destino, Giuseppe Verdi, handlung, synopsis

Online opera guide and synopsis to Verdi’s LA FORZA DEL DESTINO

La forza del destino is one of three Spanish operas (Don Carlo, Forza del destino, Il Trovatore) by Verdi, all of which enter the heroic-historical world of the grand opéra. It can justifiably be counted among the great works of Verdi. The many magnificent duets between Alvaro and Caro, the religious scenes of Leonora and the colourful supporting roles of Preziosilla, Guardiano and Fra Melitone characterise this opera. Verdi’s musical themes are grandiose and he uses them as leitmotifs throughout the opera for the first time.




Overview and quick access







Act I 

Act II


Act IV




Me pellegrina ed orfana

Madre pietosa vergine

La vergine degli angeli

Oh, tu che in seno agli angeli

Solenne in quest’ora giurarmi dovete

Urna fatale del mio destino  E salvo! Oh gioia! 

Toh, Toh, poffare il mondo!

Invano, Alvaro, ti celasti al mondo … Le minaccie, i fieri accenti 

Pace, pace mio Dio


Recording recommendation

♪ Recording recommendation





Roles and Synopsis







St. Petersburg (original version), 1862; Milan (revised version), 1869


Francesco Maria Piave (first version), Antonio Ghislanzoni (second version), based on Don Alvaro o la fuerza del sino by Angel Perez de Saavedra

Main roles

Marchese di Calatrava, Spanish nobleman - Leonora, His daughter and mistress of Alvaro - Carlo, His son - Alvaro, Noble mestizo from Peru - Preziosilla, Young gypsy - Fra Melitone, Monk - Guardiano, Father

Recording recommendation

DECCA, Mario del Monaco, Renata Tebaldi, Cesare Siepi conducted by Dmitri Mitropoulos and the Choir and Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (live recording)









The drama “Don Alvaro o la fuerza del sino” by Angel Perez de Saavedra was the literary source for the work.  Saavedra was a multi-talented playwright, diplomat and politician, and even made it to the post of Prime Minister of Spain for one day (!)! He began his career as a military officer and was able to gain military experience in several battles of the Napoleonic Wars, which he was able to use in his novels like this one.

Saavedra’s romantic style was based on Victor Hugo’s historical, melodramatic pieces, and as a stylistic device of his novels he increased “the improbability of their actions” almost to the point of absurdity. The protagonists of this novel are taken to the most diverse places and the power of fate brings them together again and again, however small the probability may be. The final act builds the dramatic climax, in which all 6 main characters end up in the same monastery at the same time for different reasons and motives!

The colourful mixture of church scenes, army choires, folk dances, love and hate duetts, duels etc. is both a strength and a weakness of the opera. A strength arises from the fact that it gave rise to scenes and images that Verdi was always looking for and that inspired his music. A weakness because the plot seems to the listener to be richly implausible and confused, and because the opera thus became an opera with an costly and opulent stage setting (apart from the not insignificant problem that the opera has to be cast with 6 great voices).



The history of origins up to the premiere

In 1858 (2 years before the composition of Forza), Verdi wrote his famous remark of the galley years. He had last brought “Il ballo in maschera” to the stage and wanted to take a break after nearly 20 hyper-productive years. In addition he took over political responsibility and was elected to the newly created Italian parliament at the beginning of 1860. So nearly two years passed until he started the next project.

At the end of 1860 the tenor Enrico Tamberlinck visited Giuseppe Verdi at his estate near Bussetto. He presented the famous composer with an offer from the Imperial Opera of St. Petersburg to publish an opera by him, the terms of which Verdi was able to define himself. Verdi proposed Saavedra’s drama to the Russians (a previous proposal had previously been rejected for censorship reasons). The theatre management accepted and Verdi commissioned Piave to write their eighth (and last) joint libretto. Verdi began work on the music at an early stage and by November 1861 the score was complete. Verdi travelled to St. Petersburg to supervise the rehearsals. Unfortunately, the singer of the leading role fell ill. Because Verdi did not want to take the risk of an insufficient substitute singer, the premiere had to be postponed to the following year.

12 months later Verdi took up the arduous 4’000 mile journey again. His music was very popular in Russia, and many of his operas were enthusiastically received in the past decade. And so this opera received a great deal of applause from the Russian audience at its premiere. There were, however, two groups who gave the work a reserved reception: on the one hand, the Wagnerist faction and, on the other hand, the national Russians around Balakirev, from whose core the “Russian five” (“group of five”) was later formed.



The new version for the Scala

Verdi was subsequently only partially satisfied with the St. Petersburg version. The reviews of the following productions in Italy and Spain were mixed. Possibly based on the bitter experience of “Simon Boccanegra”, he feared that the work in its present form was too gloomy and would not make its way permanently into the repertoire. On the occasion of a Scala production in 1869, he decided to make a fundamental revision, the version of which has remained the most frequently performed since then. He added an overture, adapted the sequence of scenes, expanded the third act with the folk scenes of Preziosilla and Fra Melitone and changed the ending to show the murder of Leonora on the open stage, but left Alvaro alive (instead of jumping off a rock).



The great characters of the opera

Perhaps the most outstanding quality feature of this opera is the role design. It begins with Leonora, whose temporal stage presence is not very high, but who gets three big and impressive solo scenes. The two male leading roles are demanding and very grateful for great singers with dramatic voices. Together they can shine in 3 big and long duets. Most special are the three supporting roles, which give the artists the opportunity to form them into impressive role portraits.  First and foremost is Fra Melitone, who has almost the quality of a forerunner of the Falstaff and is one of the few Verdian buffo roles. We should also mention Father Guardiano, with a personality and forcefulness worthy of the grand opéra, and finally the Spanish Preziosilla, who can win over the audience with songs and dances.



The leitmotifs

Verdi consistently uses leitmotifs in this opera. They do not take up the space and extensive role as Wagner later defined them in the Ring, for example, but have the function of memory motifs. In the annotated passages, you will find musical examples of the most important leitmotifs, most of which Verdi already introduces in the overture.



The music

The influence of the Parisian grand opéra is clearly evident in this work. It is conspicuous by its 4 acts with completely different locations and environments. To take this into account, Verdi composed a potpourri of musical styles ranging from Spanish dance rhythms to church music.

The voices of the leading roles have also evolved towards the grand opéra. The classical Italian coloratura soprano of the Traviata is passé, Leonora hardly has to sing decorated figures, but changes into the dramatic Fach. The tenor also has longer recitative declamation passages, as was common practice in the grand opéra. In addition, a composed high C appears for the first time in an opera of Verdi. This was dedicated to the first Alvaro, the powerful-voiced Tamberlinck; in the second version Verdi dispensed with the aria and the high C disappeared from the score.







Synopsis: In an aged country house of the Marchese di Calatrava in Seville.

This overture is a popular and great orchestral piece, which is often heard in the concert hall. Verdi composed it for the second version (the Milan version). Verdi composed it for the second version (the Milan version), replacing a less weighty, more sombre version. Right at the beginning, 3 chords sound in the brass. They symbolise the power of fate. Immediately afterwards, the most important motif, the fate motif, is heard:


After about a minute, the second leitmotif is heard, it is Alvaro’s repentance motif, which we hear, for example, in the second duet with Carlo in Act 4:


The next motif (after a total of about 2 minutes) is a mercy motif with a religious character, sounding over the dramatic tremolo of the strings, reflecting Leonora’s desire for consolation but also describing her agitation. It becomes an important theme in her great aria “Madre pietosa vergine” of the second act and is heard to the words “Deh, non abbandonar signor, per pietà” (Lord have mercy on me, do not leave me).


As a fourth motif, we hear a comforting theme, which we will encounter in the duet of Leonora and Father Guardiano, when he allows her to be admitted to the monastery and Leonora feels a sense of security for the first time in years:


Overture – Muti

Leonora’s Dilemma

Synopsis: It is late and the marchese wishes his daughter Leonora a good night. Leonora is plagued by a guilty conscience, because she plans to flee with Don Alvaro that very night. Lovingly she says goodbye to her father. She cannot open her heart to him, he would never approve of her connection to the nobleman and mestizo Don Alvaro. She is depressed to leave the house of her childhood.

No singer was able to put the desolation of Leonora in such an impressive way as Maria Callas. Kesting commented: “Me pellegrina ed orfana – these two verses of Leonora are, as text, at first nothing but a message. That in these words the whole coming drama of Leonora is hidden as if encapsulated, is something Maria Callas alone knows how to sing, with a tone that, because one of pain, almost suffocates the voice” (Kesting, Maria Callas).

Me pellegrina ed orfana  –  Callas


Synopsis: Don Alvaro appears to take her with him, the priest already expects her for the wedding. But Leonora hesitates, she wants to wait until the next day to say goodbye to her father. Don Alvaro is stunned, agitated he releases her from her marriage promise. Then Leonora changes her mind again and is ready to flee with him this very night.

In this scene, we hear the motif describing Alvaro’s deeply felt love in the first part:


The role of Alvaro is written throughout in a high tessitura. Long passages, such as those audible in this duet, were written in the so-called Passaggio (the transition between chest and head voice around the note F), which is unpleasant and demanding for the singers.

In this scene we hear Mario del Monaco with Renata Tebaldi in a live recording from 1954. Del Monaco discharges the task with rousing energy.

Ah per sempre, o mio bell’angio  –  del Monaco / Tebaldi


The fatal shot

Synopsis: They hear steps in the house. The marchese appears with two armed servants. Incensed, the marchese points his gun at Alvaro, who in turn has pulled out a pistol. Alvaro swears the marchese his honourable intention and the purity of his daughter. As a sign of reconciliation he throws his gun on the ground. A shot is fired and fatally hits the marchese, who, with his last ounce of strength, curses his daughter. Don Alvaro draws Leonora to the window and together they escape.

E tardi … vil seduttor  –  Plowright / Carreras / Rigby








Synopsis: In a village tavern. Farmers dance a seguidilla.

Holà, holà  –  Sinopoli



Don Carlo wants to avenge his father

Synopsis: Don Carlo sits at a table, dressed as a student. 18 months have passed since the accident. He is still searching for his sister Leonora and the murderer of his father. Leonora, who was separated from Don Alvaro in the turmoil, enters the tavern in men’s clothing, accompanied by the muleteer Trabuco. When she sees her brother, she is startled and quickly hides. Now the gypsy Preziosilla appears. She lures recruits for the Italy campaign.

Agnes Baltsa was a great preziosilla. Her swinging and beguiling interpretation together with the brilliance of the orchestra conducted by Sinopoli make a wonderful combination.

Al suon del tamburo  –  Baltsa


Synopsis: Pilgrims pass by, the guests of the inn join in their singing.

Padre eterno Signor … Pietà di noi  –  Molinari


Synopsis: Don Carlo gets into conversation with Trabuco. He inquires where his companion is and mocks that he has no beard. The host doesn’t want any trouble and wants to know who Carlo is. He pretends to be the student Pereda. He tells the story of a friend who is looking for the murderer of his father who fled with his daughter to America.

With this student song Verdi wrote a beautiful and catchy piece.

Son Pereda, son ricco d’onore  –  Bastiannini

Leonora’s great Prayer

Synopsis: On a rock next to a monastery. Exhausted, Leonora arrives in men’s clothes. She had secretly listened to her brother in the inn and learned bitterly about Alvaro’s alleged escape to America. She wants to repent at the monastery.

With “Madre pietosa Vergine” Verdi again writes a great, religious aria for this scene of Leonora. Leonora is in a state of highest excitement, which Verdi first creates with the introductory motif of the strings, which imitates the excited throbbing of her heart. Her exitment further increases with the tremolo of the strings and the background chorus of the monks.

Verdi created a particularly beautiful effect by composing the first section in a minor key, and by having the first heavenly and hymnic “Deh non m’abandonar” changed to the major parallel, thus giving confidence to Leonora’s supplication.

We hear this scene of Leonora in the interpretation by Maria Callas. It is unique how she can create the excitement of Leonora at the beginning with a slight tremolo in her voice and then how she changes into the “Deh non m’abandonar”. Grandiose how she shapes her voice in the duet with the choir of the monks.

Madre pietosa vergine  –  Callas


This scene is reminiscent of the hymn “Ineggiamo” from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana, of which Maria Callas was a great interpreter: https://opera-inside.com/cavalleria-rusticana-by-pietro-mascagni/#Ineggiamo


Synopsis: The abbot of the monastery receives her. He has received a letter and knows the story. He takes pity on her and grants Leonora her request to be able to end her life as a hermit, where she is to live with meagre rations and in absolute loneliness, none of the monks may contact her.

Leonora’s duet with Guardiano is, psychologically speaking, the conversation she never had with her father. The duet ends (in the sound sample at 11:30) with a wonderful effect: while Leonora vocally glides into the highest notes, the voice of the clergyman goes into the blackest depths.

Listen to the great recording of the duet by Cesare Siepi and Renata Tebaldi from the Mitropoulos recording. It shows a rousing and soulful duet of two great voices at the zenith of their art.

Chi mi cerca  –  Tebaldi / Siepi


Leonora’s admission to the monastery as a hermit

Synopsis:  Leonora is received in the monastery in a solemn ceremony. The abbot orders the monks that no one is ever allowed to near the unknown person. Only at the sound of the death knell may she be granted final consolation.

Verdi is said to have been inspired to write this scene by a painting in a church of cortemaggiore (between Busseto and Piacenza):

Cortemaggiore Assunzione Maria la forza del destino giuseppe verdi

Listen and see this impressive church scene in a recording from the St. Petersburg Opera House.

Il santo nome di Dio Signore  –  Ghergiev


This scene is simply great in the interpretation by Ezio Pinza and Rosa Ponselle. Ponselle must have had a voice that was pure like a bell, which can only be guessed at based on the recording technique of 1928. Pinza’s beautiful warm bass gives the scene the foundation, which led to a soulful recording.

La vergine degli angeli  –  Pinza / Ponselle







In the field camp

Synopsis: In a field camp near Rome. Soldiers are playing cards. Nearby is Don Alvaro. He has enlisted and is an officer in the Spanish army. His thoughts are with Leonora, whom he thinks is dead, and he wishes the angels have taken her to heaven.

The aria of Alvaro is as beautiful as it is treacherous. After a long break (Alvaro does not appear in the 2nd act) he has to sing a long (almost 7 minutes) and important recitative. Then he enters into an aria in which the voice is very exposed due to the very sparse instrumentation of the orchestra, and which is written in a high tessitura. The effect that the singer can exert over the pizzicato of the strings and the longing clarinet is beguiling, however.

Right at the beginning we hear Alvaro’s theme in the clarinet. Verdi has given this instrument a prominent function in this opera as an important vocal accompaniment to Alvaro.He wrote it for a former student friend who played the first clarinet in the St. Petersburg Opera Orchestra.  In this aria the instrument embraces the voice of the tenor.

We hear Richard Tucker, one of the great tenor voices of the post-war era.

Oh, tu che in seno agli angeli  –  Tucker


In a second version you will hear this performance with the accompanying recitative sung by Benjamino Gigli. He was the legitimate successor of Caruso and shared with him a velvety, legato soaked voice.

La vita è inferno all’infelice … Oh, tu che in seno agli angeli  –  Gigli


The great duets of Alvaro and Carlo

Synopsis: Noise is coming from the soldiers. Alvaro rushes to the assistance of an officer who has been attacked by cardsharpers. It’s Carlo, who was also hired under a false name. The two become friends, but they do not know their respective real identity.

At this point there is a great oath duet, which is sung almost a cappella. It is the forerunner of the great friendship duet “Dio nell alma infondere” which Verdi wrote a few years later for his next opera Don Carlo. https://opera-inside.com/don-carlo-by-verdi-the-opera-guide-and-synopsis/#Dio

We hear the duet in the version of the two voice-athletes Franco Corelli and Ettore Bastiannini.

Amici in vita, in morte  –  Corelli / Bastiannini


Synopsis: The troops are under attack. Don Alvaro leads his troops in the battle and is seriously wounded and brought to the sick bay. Don Carlo is with him. He promises him the Order of Calatrava for his bravery. When Alvaro hears the name, he cringes and gives Carlo a key with the request to burn the contents of the box with its secret in case of his death. Moved, they say goodbye and Alvaro is taken to the surgeon.

This duo is one of Verdi’s most beautiful duets for baritone and tenor. It is the almost tender scene of two men, who will shortly afterwards try to kill each other. This part is also very reservedly orchestrated, making the long lines of the singing voices intensively audible.
We hear this scene in a production from the Met. Domingo’s warm, expressive voice comes out wonderfully in this scene. The opulence of his voice is able to overwhelm the listener. There is a nice anecdote about this scene:

«Marta’s first positive feelings towards Domingo had been stirred when sehe heard him singing the famous tenor/baritone Duet Solenne in quest’ora. Until then she had considered him somewhat lightweight and superficial. But this duet convinced her that there was something unusual, something special about this young man. Anyone listening to Domingo singing this duet on record or video – the icomparable way in which he bites, hursl and charges the words with feeling – will know exactly what she means (Matheopoulous, «Domingo, my operatic roles»)

Solenne in quest’ora giurarmi dovete (1)  –  Domingo / Chernov


Caruso himself declared this piece to be his best duet recording. In fact, this interpretation of the two Neapolitans received reference status.  Both voices harmonize to the highest degree and exude a velvety softness in the most beautiful legato.

Solenne in quest’ora giurarmi dovete (2)  –  Caruso / Scotti


For fans of the legendary duo Björling / Merrill is the scene with the painfully beautiful tenor voice of Jussi Björling and the rich voice of Robert Merrill. Unfortunately there is no complete recording of this opera with the great Verdi tenor Jussi Björling, although his voice was made for the Alvaro.

Solenne in quest’ora giurarmi dovete (3)  –  Björling / Merrill



Carlo recognizes his mortal enemy – “Urna fatale del mio destino”

Synopsis: Carlo noticed Alvaro’s reaction to the name Calatrava. He has a nasty suspicion that Alvaro may be his father’s killer. The contents of the box might reveal the truth. When he opens it, he finds a sealed paper. He struggles whether he should betray his friend’s trust. When he finds a medallion of Leonora in his jacket, there’s no room for doubt. His wish is that Alvaro will die by his hand. At this moment the surgeon appears and reports that Alvaro has survived. Carlo triumphs, revenge is near!

The aria of Carlo was also sparingly orchestrated by Verdi. It is accompanied only by dotted strings, above which the exposed legato voice emerges. Verdi writes a majestic and antiquated music for the “old-fashioned” Carlo, which still has classical bel canto elements, such as the many ornaments.

In this intimate scene we hear the American baritone Leonard Warren, one of the great Verdi baritones of the post-war period. He possessed a rich voice that was extremely secure in the high register and supposedly reached up to C. This part of the opera got a tragic fame because Warren died at the blooming age of 48 years on open stage in this scene. This is what happened:

On March 4, during a performance of La forza del destino with Renata Tebaldi as Leonora and Thomas Schippers conducting, Warren suddenly collapsed and died on stage. Eyewitnesses including Rudolf Bing reported that Warren had completed Don Carlo’s Act III aria, which begins Morir, tremenda cosa (“to die, a momentous thing”), and was supposed to open a sealed wallet, examine the contents and cry out “È salvo, o gioia” (He is safe, oh joy), before launching into the vigorous cabaletta. While Bing reports that Warren simply went silent and fell face-forward to the floor,[3] others state that he started coughing and gasping, and that he cried out “Help me, help me!” before falling to the floor, remaining motionless. Roald Reitan, singing the Surgeon, was on stage with Warren at the time of his death, and attempted to render aid.[1] Although no autopsy was performed, Warren’s death was initially thought to have been caused by a massive cerebral hemorrhage, but was later believed by the Met house physician who attended Warren after his collapse, to have been a heart attack; Warren was forty-eight years old. (Source: Wikipedia)

Urna fatale del mio destino  E salvo! Oh gioia!  –  Warren



Synopsis: With care Carlo nursed Alvaro back to health. When Don Alvaro regains his strength, Carlo reveals himself. Alvaro seeks peace and offers him friendship, but Carlo wants the blood of Alvaro and Leonora with his sword. The two fight a duel, but are separated from soldiers. Alvaro decides to give up soldiering to find peace in a monastery.

This duet is often cancelled in live performances, because it is the third duet of Alvaro and Carlo in a row and with a length of almost 10 minutes perhaps too much of a good thing. It has musically beautiful passages. It begins in a declamatory style and continues into the fascinating counterplay of the pleading Alvaro and the unforgiving Carlo, which increases in fury when Carlo announces that Leonora will also die by his sword. It ends with the dramatic promise of Alvaro to continue his life in a monastery.

Né gustare m’è dato un’ora di quiete  –  Corelli / Batiastinni


Synopsis: In the soldiers’ camp. Marketers offer their goods. Preziosilla accompanies the soldiers as a fortune teller.

You can watch a nice interpretation of this short performance of Preziosilla in a production of the Teatro Colon (Buenos Aires)

Venite all indovina


Synopsis: Begging peasants appear. The mothers mourn the young men who have been forcibly recruited. Preziosilla mocks the men as mothers’ sons and praises the life of a soldier, and the sutlers dance with the recruits.

Nella guerra, è la follia  –  Sinopoli



Fra Melitone’s capuchin sermon

Synopsis: Fra Melitone appears and laments the destroyed monasteries and the sinful behaviour of the soldiers, who chase the monk away.

Piave and Verdi took this scene almost 1:1 from Schiller’s drama “Wallenstein”. It is an exhortation in popular language to the soldiers to give up their vicious behaviour. It was given the name Capuchin sermon, after the friar’s membership of the order of the same name (the Capuchins are the itinerant friars of the Franciscans).

We listen to Fernando Corena, one of the great Basso Buffo who created a beautiful monument to this grumpy brother Melitone.

Toh, Toh, poffare il mondo!  –  Corena


Synopsis: Preziosilla protects the monk and approves a council plan.

In this rataplan (the onomatopoeic word describes the sound made when the military drum is stirred), the opera lover naturally thinks of the rataplan of Marie from “la fille du régiment”, whom Verdi certainly knew: This passage from the the audio document is from 5:00. https://opera-inside.com/la-fille-du-regiment-by-gaetano-donizetti-the-opera-guide-and-synopsis/#Au

You can watch this scene in a production of La Scala, accompanied by an excellent choir.

Rataplan – D’intino









Synopsis: In the Convent of the Virgin of the Angels. Five years have passed. Those in need get soup from Fra Melitone. He mocks the beggars while they praise Father Raphael, who always found kind words for them.

A vocally beautiful interpretation by Juan Pons.

Fate la carità  – Pons



Another great Duet of Alvaro and Carlo

Synopsis: Father Raphael, none other than Don Alvaro, retired to his cell some time ago. Now Carlo appears in the convent, he got on the tracks of Alvaro. When they meet, Carlo takes out two swords that he brought for a duel. The monk Alvaro tries to convince him of the unfortunate accident of the pistol shot for which he is paying in the monastery. Carlo provokes him anew by scolding him as a mestizo, whereupon Alvaro grabs the sword but tries to compose himself. Once again Carlo tries to provoke him with a slap in the face. Now they hurl themselves from the monastery to find a place for their duel.

We come to another great duet of the two opponents. A particularly beautiful passage begins in the audio document at 3:51 where Alvaro humbly asks for pity with his melancholy leitmotif, but Carlo sings bitterly at 4:51 “You left to me a sister who, betrayed, you abandoned to infamy and dishonour”. He takes up Alvaro’s motif and Verdi lets the fate motif painfully accompany it in the orchestra.

In the playlist we find 3 interpretations of this rousing duet.

We hear and see this duet first in the interpretation of Domingo and Chernov.

Invano, Alvaro, ti celasti al mondo … Le minaccie, i fieri accenti (1)  –  Domingo/Chernov


An impressive interpretation of two old masters in a Met Gala of 1972.

Invano, Alvaro, ti celasti al mondo … Le minaccie, i fieri accenti (2)  –  Merill / Tucker


For many experts, this following recording is a reference for this duet, where “excitement leads to a ‘vocal rampage'” (Kesting, Great Singers).

Invano, Alvaro, ti celasti al mondo … Le minaccie, i fieri accenti (3)  –  De Luca / Martinelli



Leonora’s great prayer “Pace, pace, mio dio”

Synopsis: Not far from there is Leonora in her hermitage.

Pace, pace is Leonora’s prayer, her plea for peace, which she will not achieve on earth and longs for her death (“Oh God, let me die”). Hardly any other aria lets the desperation of a woman feel so directly, and it offers the singer many opportunities to captivate the listener.

It begins with a shattering cry “Pace” (“Peace”), with a swelling sound, it must sound full of warmth and despair and immediately seize the listener.

Her voice is accompanied by sighing wind instruments and the harp. In addition to the piano parts of the first part, the angelic (written in pianissimo!) high Bb in the middle part and the dramatic “maledizione” at the end form the great highlights of this aria.

We hear this aria in 4 interpretations.

In the role of Leonora and the “pace, pace” Renata Tebaldi was possibly unrivalled. Her angelic piano turns this aria into a monument and is one of the most beautiful recordings of this great singer.

Pace, pace mio Dio  –  Tebaldi


Steane described Leontyne Price “as the best Verdi soprano of the 20th century”. One can argue about that, of course, but her “Pace, pace” is one of the few that play in the league of Tebaldi’s interpretation. Her “smoky” voice has a fascinating timbre in the low passages and the piano part at the beginning is great and the maledizione has a goose skin factor.

Pace, pace mio Dio  –  Price


Maybe Callas’ piani did not have the quality and beauty of Tebaldi’s in this aria, but none could portray the bitterness and supplication as credibly and bitterly beautiful as Maria Callas. And then at the end comes this incredible maledizione.

Pace, pace mio Dio  –  Callas


Netrebko’s 2019 Forza in London was a triumph. Her almost mezzo-soprano voice triumphed in pace, pace.

Pace, pace mio Dio  –  Netrebko



The final terzetto

Synopsis: She hears the noise of the duel. When Carlo is mortally wounded, Alvaro calls the unknown hermit to take confessional vows from Carlo. Surprised, he recognizes Leonora. She hurries to the dying Carlo. He cannot forgive her even in death and plunges a dagger into her chest. Father Guardiano rushes over and seeks words of comfort for the dying Leonora.

With this conclusion the third member of the Calatrava family also dies. To underline the tragedy of this moment, the father of Leonora appears in many productions in the place of Guardiano. Both roles are written for the same voice type and are usually sung by the same person. The opera ends with a large trio and piano chords by the orchestra.

Io muoio … Non imprecare, umiliati  –  Kaufmann / Herteros




Recording Recommendation

DECCA : Mario del Monaco, Renata Tebaldi,  Cesare Siepi under the direction of Dmitri Mitroupoulos and the Coro and Orchestra of the maggio musicale fiorentino (live recording).




Peter Lutz, opera-inside, the online opera guide on LA FORZA DEL DESTINO by Giuseppe Verdi.



2 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    The List of Characters under this opera guide seems not to belong to La Forza del Destino. They seem to be Russian names – perhaps Eugene Onegin?


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