La forza del destino (The Force of Destiny) is an Italian opera by Giuseppe Verdi. The libretto was written by Francesco Maria Piave based on a Spanish drama, Don Alvaro o La Fuerza de Sino (1835), by Ángel de Saavedra, Duke of Rivas, with a scene adapted from Friedrich Schiller's Wallensteins Lager.
It was first performed in the Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre of St. Petersburg, Russia, on 10 November 1862.
After some further revisions, performances in Rome in 1863 (as Don Alvaro) and Madrid (with the Duke of Rivas, the play's author, in attendance) followed shortly afterwards, and the opera subsequently travelled to New York and Vienna (1865), Buenos Aires (1866) and London (1867).
Verdi made other revisions, with additions by Antonio Ghislanzoni, which premiered at La Scala, Milan, on 27 February 1869. This has become the "standard" performance version).
La forza del destino is part of the standard operatic repertoire. There are a number of recordings of it, and it is regularly performed.
Setting: around 1850 in Spain and Italy.
Don Alvaro is a young nobleman from South America (presumably Peru) who is part Indian and who has settled in Seville, where, however, he is not very well thought of. He falls in love with Donna Leonora, the daughter of the Marquis of Calatrava, who, notwithstanding his love for his daughter, is determined that she shall marry only a man of the highest origin. Leonora, knowing her father’s aversion, and deeply in love with Alvaro, determines to elope with him, aided by her confidante, Curra. On the point of departure with him, she suddenly desires to see her father for a last time. Her father unexpectedly enters and discovers Alvaro; he threatens him with death, and Alvaro in order to remove any suspicion as to Leonora’s purity, offers to surrender himself to the Marquis. He flings down his pistol which goes off and mortally wounds the Marquis who dies cursing his daughter.
The Alcade, several peasant muleteers, and Don Carlo of Vargas, the brother of Donna Leonora, are gathered in the kitchen of an inn in the village of Hornachuelos. Don Carlo is searching for Don Alvaro to avenge the death of his father and is disguised as a student of Salamanca, under the fictitious name of Pereda. Leonora, in male attire arrives. During the supper, Preziosilla, a young gypsy, tells the young men’s fortunes and exhorts them to enlist in the war for Italy’s freedom, which all agree to do. In a very beautiful solo, Don Carlo tells them of his father’s death. Leonora overhears his song and barely escapes discovery by him. She takes refuge in a monastery where she tells the abbot her true name and that she intends to spend the remainder of her life in a hermitage. After the abbot has recounted the trials she will have to undergo, she departs for her cave.
Meanwhile Don Alvaro has joined the Spanish army under the name of Don Federico Herreros. One night he saves the life of Don Carlo who is serving in the same army under the name of Don Felix Bornos. They become close friends and go into battle side by side. In one of these engagements Don Alvaro is, as he supposes, mortally wounded, and confides to Don Carlo’s care a valise containing a bundle of letters which he is to destroy as soon as Don Alvaro dies. Don Carlo has sworn not to look at the contents of the letters; but he becomes suspicious of his friend, opens the valise and finds his sister’s picture. At that moment a surgeon brings word that Don Alvaro may recover. Don Carlo is overjoyed at the idea of revenging his father’s death. The scene changes to a camp near Velletri (Italy) where Don Carlo and Don Alvaro fight a duel, in which Don Alvaro thinks he has killed his opponent. In expiation, Don Alvaro vows to enter a monastery.
Don Alvaro has entered the monastery at Hornachuelos, near which is Leonora’s cave, under the name of Father Raphael. Don Carlo arrives cured of his wound and forces him to fight. They choose the ground before Leonora’s cave; and Don Carlo is mortally wounded. Alvaro calls for help, and Leonora recognizing his voice rushes out, and seeing her brother dying, stoops over him; he thereupon stabs her to the heart. Don Alvaro flings himself to death from some rocks, before the monks arrive singing the Miserere.
Reference: Plot taken from The Opera Goer's Complete Guide by Leo Melitz, 1921 version.
Click the following links for the libretto in (original language) Italian or the English translation.