In a premiere production for Monaco, the Monte-Carlo Opera stages Giuseppe Verdi’s opera I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata.

This production by Teatro Regio de Parma stars tenor Antonio Corianỏ as Arvino, bass Michele Pertusi as his brother Pagano, soprano Cristina Giannelli as Viclinda, Arvino’s wife, and soprano Nino Machaidze as her daughter Giselda.

Verdi’s four-act drama lirico – which loosely translates as the Lombardi on the First Crusade – is set to an Italian libretto by Temistocle Solera, which was based on an epic poem by Tommaso Grossi. The opera is thought to have been written in the second half of the year 1842, but not much is known about the circumstances in which it was composed. There are no records of negotiations with Teatra alla Scala in Milan – where the opera was premiered on 11th February, 1843 – and no correspondence seems to exist between Verdi and his librettist. The opera was apparently not well received by the religious censors in Milan at the time, but after a few changes were made, the premiere turned out to be a great success.

162-10. I Lombardi Teatro Regio di Parma 2003 copyright Roberto Ricci

The setting of the opera moves from Milan to Antioch and the country around Jerusalem in 1099 AD, and tells of the love rivalries of two brothers against the backdrop of the First Crusade. Pagano who is in love with Viclinda – his brother’s wife – mistakenly kills his father, and exiles himself to the Holy Land, vowing never to love again. He disguises himself as a hermit and helps the Crusaders – led by Arvino – to conquer Antioch, a land led by a tyrannical ruler Acciano. Arvino then goes on to lead the Crusaders to set Jerusalem free. With victory assured – thanks to the help of the injured hermit – Pagano reveals his true identity, admits his crime and dies forgiven.

The hymns which are sung by the chorus soon became the symbol of the Risorgimento – the movement which succeeded in the political unification and independence of Italy and of which Verdi became a major figure.

The cast also includes bass Daniel Giulianini as Pagano’s henchman Pirro, tenor Rémy Mathieu as the Prior of the city of Milan, bass Eugenio Di Lieto as Acciano, tyrant of Antioch, tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz as Oronte, Acciano’s son, and soprano Michelle Canniccioni as Sofia, Acciano’s wife.

Opra de Monte-Carlo logoDirection musicale Daniele Callegari leads the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Chorus of the Monte-Carlo Opera – director Stefano Visconti. Hailing from Milan, Maestro Callegari is well known for leading both symphonic and operatic performances, having appeared in many of the major concert halls and opera houses across Europe, as well as at Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Opera and in Tokyo, Toronto and Tel Aviv.

Original staging was by the late Lamberto Puggelli, executed by Grazia Pulvirenti, with decor by Paolo Bregni, costumes by Santuzza Cali and lighting by Andrea Borelli. Renzo Musumeci Greco is Master-at-Arms.

Monte-Carlo Opera performs Verdi’s I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata on 20th, 23rd, 25th and 28th March at 2.00 pm (CET).

Visit the Monte-Carlo Opera website for information on tickets.


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All photos © Roberto Ricci and courtesy Opéra Monte-Carlo


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