Tragic opera in three acts on a libretto by Salvatore Cammarano
, from the tragedy Kabala und Liebe
by Friedrich Schiller.Première:
Naples, San Carlo Theatre, December 8th, 1849.
Act I. The Tyrol, first half of the 17th century. Luisa Miller loves Rodolfo and is loved in return by him. The young man is the son of the count of Walter, who has arranged another marriage for him. Rodolfo does not intend to abandon Luisa and goes as far as blackmailing his father: if he will not let his son realise his own dream of love, Rodolfo will denounce him for the assassination of a cousin in order to gain his title and land.
Act II. Miller, father of Luisa, has been arrested for opposing the unjust conduct of the count. He could be killed, except for the lord of the castle, Wurm, also in love with Luisa, who spares his life in exchange for a letter from Luisa stating that she does not love Rodolfo, but allows him to court her and accepts his advances only for ambition. Wurm manages to leave the letter where the young man will read it; hurt and bewildered, Rodolfo decides to accept the marriage his father has arranged.
Act III. Luisa, who has sacrificed her love in order to save her father's life, no longer wants to live. She is about to write her testament, in which she will set down how things really happened. Miller manages to stop her, and convinces her to leave with him. While they are preparing for the trip, Rodolfo arrives, asking whether the letter he intercepted from Luisa could possibly be true. Luisa, who had promised never to reveal Wurm's perfidy in order to save her father, nods her head. Rodolfo, hidden, puts poison into two glasses and drinks with Luisa.
The young girl finally decides to tell the truth, but it is too late, the poison is starting to have its effect. Rodolfo curses the father and kills Wurm, but is destined to die together with his faithful Luisa.
Verdi's collaboration with the San Carlo Theatre of Naples received a severe setback with the decision of the Maestro to give La battaglia di Legnano al Teatro Argentina di Roma. A causa del tentato annullamento del contratto, Salvatore Cammarano to the Argentina Theatre in Rome. Because of the attempt to annul the contract, the theatre threatened to have La battaglia di Legnano. At first, he thought of a historical drama full of patriotism such as L'Assedio di Firenze (the siege of Florence), but the stringent censorship in Naples would never have permitted such an explosive subject, so the final choice fell to an intimate bourgeois drama by the much loved Friedrich Schiller, Kabala und Liebe. Verdi composed the music while travelling between Paris, Busseto, Rome and Naples, where the opera opened on December 8th, 1849 with the title Luisa Miller.