2004-09-26 Stiffelio (Verdi), Opernhaus Zurich

Stiffelio = José Cura
Lina = Emily Magee
Stankar = Leo Nucci
Raffaele = Reinaldo Macias
Jorg = Günther Groissböck
Federico di Frengel = Martin Zysset
Dorotea = Margaret Chalker

Stefano Ranzani, conductor

Inszenierung - Cesare Lievi
Bühnenbild - Csaba Antal
Kostüme - Marina Luxardo
Chor - Ernst Raffelsberger
Track 1: Stiffelio : Overture (ca. 09:57)
The conductor Stefano Ranzani conducted the Overture/Sinfonia in an OK way. This is one of Giuseppe Verdi's best opera-opening-pieces.
Track 2: Stiffelio : "Oh santo libro" (02:30)
Günter Groissböck (Jorg) sat at the table with a big book. For me it was obvious that it is the Holy Bible as he sang (santo libro = holy book). Jorg was alone, then Jose Cura (Stiffelio) came with Lina, his wife and his followers behind him. Stiffelio seemed to be immersed in himself, hand-shaking with his friends or sect members not in a way of man who cares and have longed for his friends. (He has been on missionary trip). His meeting with Lina (Emily Magee) is awkward, they don't seem to be able to touch each-other of be close, they want to but they can't. Dorotea, Lina cousin (Margaret Chalker) a bit gossipy, tells of a man who wanted to speak to Stiffelio. It is Walter, a boatman who has recently seen something strange.
Track 3: Stiffelio : "Di qua varcando"/"Son quanti giorni?" (02:13)
8 days ago Walter saw a young man and a young woman, they were in distress. In the end the young man jumped into the water, but he lost some papers. It was Raffaele, the young nobleman (Reinaldo Macias) who lost Lina's love letters. It is quite typical that Stiffelio thinks he has the right to tell this people what Walter has seen, since Walter did not forbid it. But I would think that the priest should know that Walter is not the one who is at stake here it is the young couple. Jose Cura and the orchestra is not entirely together here, when the aria becomes an ensemble it gets together again quite beautifully.
Track 4: Stiffelio : "Colla cenere disperso" (02:25)
The priest Stiffelio decide that the papers is to be burnt. It is open fire on the stage.
Colla cenere disperso
Sia quel nome e quel delitto;
Dio lo disse, Dio l'ha scritto:
Al fratel s'indulger.
The relief is great, and the admiration of the priest's godliness. Lina expresses her will to never sin again. But Raffaele want to meet Lina again, she doesn't want that

Track 5: Stiffelio : "Viva Stiffelio!" (03:22)
The sect members come in to celebrate Stiffelio. Stiffelio wants them only to sing praises of God. Lina is tormented by her sin, and the celebration of Stiffelio status as the great pastor.

Track 6: Stiffelio : "Non ha per me un accento" (01:56)
Stiffelio and Lina is alone. He longs for her to talk to him. But this Stiffelio is not very accommodating, I think. Lina sings of how they met and that she still has trouble calling him Stiffelio. He was called Rodolfo Müller when they met. He used a pseudonym.

Track 7: Stiffelio : "Vidi dovunque gemere" (04:04)
Stiffelio was alone and unhappy when he was away, and everywhere he went he saw the sins of people. Especially that women, who was breaking the holy matrimony.
Le ingenue
Custodi del pudore,
Le donne, rotto il vincolo
Del coniugale amore . . .

Lina believes that Stiffelio has a great heart and would forgive, but no... He says it is not possible... (and they are just discussing the idea of forgiveness at this point)
È grande la vost'anima,
Avrebbe perdonato.
(Lina si confonde)

Ah no, il perdono facile
Al core non ferito;
Ma occulto sta nell'anime
Tesoro indefinito,
Che nulla mano infrangere
Impunemente può.

This makes Lina unhappy. The husband tries to comfort her. It is the anniversary. But the ring is missing....
Track 8: Stiffelio : "Ah! v'appare in fronte scritto" (02:17)
Jose Cura as Stiffelio is furious. In a very threatening position he hangs over Lina. Then Stankar comes in, Stiffelio is wanted elsewhere. In a threatening voice, "Soon I will be back!!!"

Track 9: Stiffelio : "Tosto ei disse!" (03:47)
Emily Magee's voice is simply a dream listening too. She is really Lina. In this aria. She tries to decide what to do, to say, to write. Yes, she starts writing a letter to Stiffelio ("Stiffelio, I am no longer worthy of your love")
Track 10: Stiffelio : "Verrà! Dovrò risponder!" (01:32)
Then Stankar, her father comes in. Stankar (Leo Nucci) has been spying on his daughter. He suspect that she writing to Leuthold (Raffaele), but even worse from his side, she is trying to confess to Stiffelio. Where Lina wants forgiveness, Stankar want that the stain on his honor should be unnoticed by the outside world. He forces Lina to give into his plan of never letting Stiffelio know of this.
Track 11: Stiffelio : "Dite che il fallo a tergere" (01:10)
Track 12: Stiffelio : "Ed io pure in faccia agli uomini" (03:07)
Ed io pure in faccia agli uomini
Dovrò l'ira soffocare,
La vergogna dovrò vincere,
Voi mia figlia ancor nomare;
Voi, l'indegna che disprezzo,
Voi, del padre disonore.
Track 13: Stiffelio : "Or meco venite" (03:10)
Track 14: Stiffelio : "M'evitan" (00:52)
The same book that Jorg was reading in and called "santo libro" is now Klopstock Messiah. Raffaele has just written a note to Lina and locked the book when Federico di Frengel comes in and wants the book. And then a backdrop, drops down. Was it is mishap, or was it supposed to happen.
Track 15: Stiffelio : "Plaudiam" (03:18)
It does strike me as strange that Stiffelio should be sitting a desk looking at a miniature of the church this sect is going to build, looking at architect plans, and that that the chorus is on the galleries. He is mentally not there. Jorg came in, he is not for this kind of parties, but  neither can Stiffelio be... Sitting down, I don't get this... Jorg is interested, however in telling Stiffelio about a note in a book, some intrigue, something sinful, no doubt. But since Federico now has the book, he is thought to be the guilty one.

Track 16: Stiffelio : "Cugino, pensaste al sermone?" (02:06)
Dorotea is asking Stiffelio (or Federico),are you thinking about the sermon, Federico answers, that they will all be there and ask Stiffelio what will be the subject. Judas, the traitor.
Non solo all'iniquo ch'ha il Maestro venduto,
Ma a quanti tradiscon m'udrete imprecare
A lui che s'insinua, che simula astuto,
Che insidia, che macchia il domestico lare;
Che stende la mano all'uomo ingannato,
E infame poi vanta l'onore involato! . . .
A lui per anatema fia sol ch'io ripeta
Il carme ispirato del grande poeta . . .

He is so furious, Stiffelio, that all is taken aback, especially Federico who doesn't know why he is singled out.

Track 17: Stiffelio : "Oh qual m'invade ed agita" (03:02)
Stiffelio takes the book from Federico. Of course it was Dorotea who told that Lina has the key to this book. And suddenly, Stiffelio is getting very insecure about what is going to happen.
Track 18: Stiffelio : "Nol volete" (02:49)
Stiffelio opens the book with his bare hands. The letter flies out. Stankar almost leaps to get the note. Stiffelio is beside himself of fury. Stankar and Raffaele is going to meet at the church yard.

   ACT 2
Track 1: Stiffelio : "Oh cielo! dove son io" (03:40)
Suddenly Lina sees her mother grave, she is devastated.
Track 2: Stiffelio : "Ah, dagli scanni eterei" (03:43)
Lina sings that her mother must intercede, so that she can be forgiven. This is one of the most beautiful soprano arias that Verdi wrote, and Emily Magee sings it wonderfully....

Track 3: Stiffelio : "Perder dunque voi volete" (02:40)
Then there is a duet with Raffaele. Somehow in this production I do not get so a confused Lina as Malfitano in the Moshinsky production. Here Lina's feeling is that she is definetely through with Raffaele. All she want him to do is to give back her letters, the ring and other incriminating thing. And that he would not destroy her life, her marriage. He doesn't want to back out.

Track 4: Stiffelio : "Io resto"/"Qual rumore" (03:07)
Lina's father is there, she must go. Finally after many insults, Stankar gets Raffaele in the dueling mode. Then Stiffelio comes.

Track 5: Stiffelio : "Santo è il loco" (02:21)
Stiffelio reminds them that they are on holy ground.
Santo il loco che sì profanate . . .
I sepolcri col piede premete,
Sopra il capo la croce vi sta!

It is the minister talking. They are not willing to stop now. Then Stiffelio asks Raffaele as the younger to give up the sword. They shake hands, Stankar is outraged, taking the hand of the man you have deceived. And now Lina comes.
Grazia! Grazia! Rodolfo!

It was Lina & Raffaele.

Track 6: Stiffelio : "Ah no, è impossibile" (03:09)
Jose Cura, in the photos in the program we see him hold the sword egg with his bare hand, but there is some rag in between. on the premiere, nothing protects his hands... And I am not sure he noticed it because we was so much Stiffelio.

Track 7: Stiffelio : "Dessa non è" (05:05)
Stankar reminds Stiffelio that she is not the only guilty one, now the priest is an outraged husband who want to duel with the seducer. Raffaele seem to have a change of mind, is willing to take his penalty but not to fight his minister. Jorg comes out. Reminds Stiffelio that he is a priest after all, and there is a sermon...

STIFFELIO:(come in delirio)
Me disperato abbruciano
Ira, infernal furore,
Tranquilli la man gelida
Voi mi gravate al core . . .
Ah fate prima ch'ardermi
Le vene cessi il sangue,
E la virtù che langue
Sar più forte in me! . . .
Lasciatemi, lasciatemi . . .
Tutto il mio cor perdé.
JORG:(sale sui gradini)
Da questa croce agli uomini
Ha Cristo perdonato . . .

Stiffelio faints with his hands round the cross, his bloody hand makes mark on the tree. It almost look like STIGMATA.
  ACT 3
Track 8: Stiffelio : "Ei Fugge" (02:45)
This is Leo Nucci's great scene. And the only truly thunderous applause of the day is for Leo Nucci. He is simply stunning as Stankar. Stankar has decided for suicide since Raffaele has runaway. Death for Stankar. He is really sorry for himself.
Track 9: Stiffelio : "Lina, pensai che un angelo"/"Ah, si finisca" (03:47)
But the Jorg tells that Raffaele is back. What a joy....

Track 10: Stiffelio : "In questo tetto uno di noi morrà" (02:15)
A change to kill Raffaele, and sort of redeem his honour. (nonsense)
Great applaud for Leo Nucci
Track 11: Stiffelio : "Dite ai fratei che al tempio"/"Inevitabil fu questo colloquio" (02:43)
Raffaele who expect revenge is simply asked what would you do if Lina was free. But Lina is told that this marriage is breakable since Stiffelio called himself Rodolfo at that time.
Track 12: Stiffelio : "Opposto è il calle" (04:55)
I guess Stiffelio think he is generous, a divorce, Lina can marry Raffaele, the man he thinks she loves. She is not given any chance to tell what happen, or why, nor is he reflecting FORGIVENESS.
Track 13: Stiffelio : "Non allo sposo volgomi"/"Egli un patto proponeva" (04:03)
Il vo'!
Non allo sposo volgomi,
Ma all'uom del Vangelo.
Ei fino dal patibolo
A' rei dischiude il cielo . . .
La donna più non supplica,
Qui la colpevol sta .

Lasciatemi . . . lasciatemi . . .

Ministro, confessatemi . . .

Lina ask of the evangelic minister to confession. It was not love, she was deceived. But what happens, Stiffelio jumps up for revenge, not forgiveness. And then her father comes out, with bloody arm. Raffaele is dead. Killed.

Jorg reminds of the church is waiting.
Track 14: Stiffelio : "Ah, sì, voliamo al tempio" (02:17)
Ah sì, voliamo al tempio,
Fuggiam le inique porte,
Delitto solo e morte
Qui l'uomo vi stampò.
Ai seduttori esempio
Rimanga questo tetto . . .
Iddio l'ha maledetto,
D'infamia il fulminò.

A dunque non v'ha in terra
Conforto al mio dolore! . . .
D'involontario errore
Perdono non avrò!
Clemente Iddio disserra
Di tua piet il tesoro,
Col palpito t'imploro
D'un cor che non peccò!

Track 15: Stiffelio : "Non punirmi, Signor" (04:48)
Non punirmi, signor, nel tuo furore,
O come nebbia al sol dileguerò!
Miserere di me, piet, Signore,
Miserere, e tue glorie canterò.

Se punii chi m'ha tradito
Nell'onor ch' tuo dono,
Come a Davide pentito,
Dio, concedimi il perdono.

Confido in Te,
Signor, pieta
Non nieghi a me
La tua bonta

The organ plays, The congregation sings a miserere. Stankar is asking for forgiveness is his limited way. Lina is confiding in God's eternal mercy.
Track 16: Stiffelio : "Stiffelio!" "Eccomi" (03:37)
Stiffelio confused, doesn't recognize his wife. And the he starts reading the BIBLE, it is the famous meeting of Jesus and the adulterous woman.
"Allor Gesù rivolto
Al popolo assembrato
Mostrò l'adultera
Ch'era a suoi piedi e così disse:

(Oh, ciel!)

'Quegli di voi che non peccò
La prima pietra scagli.'

Che parli?

(E non finisce?)

E la donna, la donna
Perdonata s'alzò."

Gran Dio!

Che fai, Stiffelio?

"Perdonata, perdonata."

Iddio lo pronunziò.

CORO:(Tutti ripetono)
"Perdonata! Perdonata!" Iddio lo pronunziò.

Gran Dio!

In Zurich, the congregation was reenacting this scene, they were ready to "stone" Lina. But then stopped by the word, the one who has not sinned can throw the first stone. And then a quiet, and Jose Cura reads on, "And the woman stood up forgiven".


Can there be a greater opera with a more human message than this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1


Thank  you Giuseppe Verdi and the librettist PIAVE

This page was last updated: June 20, 2022