Opera in two acts on a libretto by Temistocle Solera
Milan, Scala Theatre, November 17th, 1839.
In Bassano, at Ezzelino's castle and surroundings, in 1228. The young count Riccardo is to marry the sister of Ezzelino da Romano, Cuniza. However, deceiving his friend Oberto, he seduces his daughter Leonora. Discovering the deception, Oberto convinces Leonora to go to Cuniza to tell her the truth and unmask the seducer. Upset by what Leonora has to say, Cuniza decides to quit Riccardo, who will thus be forced into a marriage of reparation. But Oberto is not very happy with this solution: he challenges the young man to a duel and kills him. For Leonora all that remains is the convent.
In 1835 a very young Giuseppe Verdi was at work on the composition of his first opera. He took it to Pietro Massini, director of the Filarmonici in Milan, and also to the Ducale Theatre in Parma. This latter, distrustful of a new composer, refused to put on the opera (as the saying goes, "nemo profeta in patria"), but Massini was interested and gave it to Merelli, the impresario for the Scala Theatre, to see if he could use it. With the title Rochester and a libretto by Antonio Piazza the opera should have premièred in the spring of 1839, but one of the singers was taken ill and the production was delayed. In the meantime, Verdi continued working on the music, completed the orchestration, and Piazza's Rochester o Lord Hamilton was adapted by Temistocle Solera with the title Oberto conte di San Bonifacio. It was presented at the Scala in Milan on November 17th, 1839, with encouraging success, the Maestro of Busseto's first opera.