opera with a prologue and two acts on a libretto by Salvatore Cammarano
, from Alzire ou les Américains
Naples, San Carlo Theatre, August 12th, 1845.
Zamora commands a group of Peruvian warriors fighting against Spanish oppression. His beloved is Alzira. After a battle, word comes that Zamora has been killed.
Alzira is obliged to become Christian and marry the hated Spanish governor, Gusmano. But Zamora is alive and soon returns. He fights the tyrant and badly wounds him. At death's door, Gusmano repents for his misdeeds and wishes to redeem himself: he nominates Zamora as governor. Zamora in turn converts to Christianity. Wise and above the torments of passion, Gusman's father Alvaro observes the crowning of the temporarily broken love story between the warrior chief and beautiful, sentimental Alzira, whom he has grown to admire.
This opera was considered the only real flop in Verdi's carrier, which the Maestro himself defined as "ugly". The musical score was to have been finished in 1844, but Verdi was slow for several reasons: his health was not good, and he was confined to bed for anorexia and dyspnoea; he felt he was at the end of his carrier, confiding to a friend, "I can't wait for the end of the next three years. I have to write six more operas and then good-bye to all that." Alzira was composed through obligation rather than inspiration. And last but not least, the soprano who was to have been the protagonist, Eugenia Tadolini, had given birth a short time before, and, given her relatively advanced years, it seems she had lost much of her voice.
Despite these adverse conditions, Verdi went to Naples in June, 1845, pressured by the San Carlo impresario Vincenzo Flauto. The evening of August 12th, the opera was performed for the first time, but the success enjoyed that first season was never repeated: outside of Naples, audiences did not like it, fully agreeing with Verdi's verdict. Alzira is one of the least known operas in Verdi' repertoire.