Tuesday June 4th, 7:30 p.m.

JOAN OF ARC (Giovanna d'Arco)

An Opera in Three Acts and a Prologue

by Giuseppe Verdi (1813 - 1901)

libretto by Temistocle Solera

Premièred at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan on 15 February 1845

Cast

Giovanna

Carlo VII, King of France

Giacomo, shepherd and father of Giovanna

Delil, a French officer

Talbot, an English Commander

Anna Netrebko, soprano

Francesco Meli, tenor

Carlos Alvarez, baritone

Michele Mauro, tenor

Dmitri Beloselskiy, bass

Production

A 2015 production from the Teatro alla Scala

Direction by Mosche Leiser and Patrice Caurier

Set Design by Christian Fenouillat

Costume Design by Agostino Cavalca

Lighting Design by Christophe Forey

Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala

conducted by Riccardo Chailly


Giovanna d'Arco poster
from a poster for the original production, also in the Teatro alla Scala,
on 15 February 1845

Synopsis

Act One

A chorus of French soldiers and townspeople lament the poor fortunes of the war and curse the English who have invaded their land. Orleans is also under siege and is about to fall.

The French King Charles VII announces his intention to surrender to the enemy. He then gives an account of a dream that he has had of a voice telling him to place his helmet and sword at the foot of the image of the Virgin in a country chapel in the middle of the forest.

The townspeople observe that such an image exists in a wild, gloomy clearing nearby. The King decides to go there while some people try to dissuade him.

Giacomo, Giovanna's father, is secretly following her suspecting she has given her soul to the forces of Evil. Giovanna arrives to ask for a blessing and arms to fight for her country. She falls asleep.

Charles lays his helmet and sword before the chapel and kneels in prayer. Voices agitate Giovanna's sleep and awakening, she takes up Charles' arms with war-like enthusiasm.

Act Two

The English have been defeated by the French army led by Giovanna. Giacomo is in a state of agitation. He promises the English to deliver the bold and guilty Giovanna into their hands.

Giovanna has come outside to escape the celebrations taking place in the palace. She is in love with the king and her turmoil is expressed simultaneously by the angelic and devilish voices heard earlier.

Giovanna decides to leave the court and return to her father in their humble village as the king arrives and the couple declare their love for each other.

Act Three

The people gather to witness the coronation ceremony. After the triumphal march which accompanies the passing of the royal procession, Giacomo declares his intention to denounce Giovanna's guilt before all. From the cathedral a hymn is heard signalling the end of the ceremony, and soon Giovanna emerges followed by the king.

When Charles invites the people to pay homage to the saviour of France, Giacomo bursts out with his terrible accusation: Giovanna is impure and sacrilegious.

Charles invites Giocomo to provide proof of his allegations. Giovanna is asked to defend herself. Confused, she says nothing and her silence is taken as proof of her guilt.

Act Four

Giovanna lies in prison in chains. Hearing the noise of the battle nearby, she begs God to allow her to run to the aid of the French for one last time.

Giacomo has overheard her prayer and understands that his accusations have been unjust. He frees his daughter and is reconciled with her, offering her his own sword.

Giovanna rushes out to join the battle.

Charles is once more victorious, thanks to Giovanna's help. However, shortly afterwards comes the news of the heroine's death, and a funeral march is played as her body is brought forward for all to see.

In reality, Giovanna is not yet dead and she cries her last words in an atmosphere of ecstatic rapture.

NEXT MEETING: Tuesday July 9

THE SUNKEN BELL (Respighi)

Respighi's operatic masterpiece in a 2016 Cagliari production that has been hailed for its brilliance and magnificent performances