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The Force of Destiny (Adina Aaron, Giancarlo Monsalve; photo by Scott Suchman)

Washington National Opera: The Force of Destiny

Thrust together by fate, three lives become intertwined on a path to ruin. WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello brings her inventive staging to this new production of Verdi's demanding masterpiece, featuring an exciting cast of international singers.

  • Oct. 12 - 26, 2013
  • Opera House
  • 3 hours, 10 minutes
  • $25.00 - $300.00
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About

Giuseppe Verdi's
The Force of Destiny
(La forza del destino)
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
New production

Watch an interview with the cast.

Watch video highlights from the production.

WHAT THE CRITICS ARE SAYING:
 
From DC Metro Theater Arts: 

WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello "takes some major risks in this production with her innovative staging, the overture, and the young cast, and they have paid off in a jaw-dropping, mind-blowing production."
 
From The Baltimore Sun:

The production "has a musical and visual spark that generates a stirring experience." Zambello's concept is "vibrantly realized...The opening night performance benefited from the tight rapport and considerable vocal fire power of the cast."
 
Adina Aaron as Leonora "lit up the stage. 'Pace, pace, mio Dio' was delivered with great sensitivity. A compelling performance." Giancarlo Monsalve as Alvaro "revealed a burly timbre with baritonal heft and...an ability to sculpt phrases incisively." Mark Delavan as Carlo "filled the house with a vibrant, muscular sound." And conductor Xian Zhang "shaped the score with a keen sense of momentum...and an appreciation for the eloquence of Verdi's melodic lines."

From the blog of Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Philip Kennicott:

"A stylish and often sexy production! By the end of this tale of vengeance, shame, and thwarted forgiveness, the piece takes on some of the primal power of Greek drama, breathless and relentless... Verdi's experimental genius, his restless creativity, shines through."
 
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OVERVIEW OF THE PRODUCTION:


WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, "known for her psychologically probing interpretations of the operatic repertoire" (The New Yorker), brings her inventive staging to this new production that celebrates the bicentenary of Verdi's birth.
 
Not seen by WNO audiences in nearly 25 years, Verdi's notoriously demanding masterpiece bursts onto the stage with its famous soaring themes, rousing ensemble passages, and thrilling arias, including the fourth act's show-stopping "Pace, pace mio Dio."
 
Combined with an exciting cast of international singers conducted by gifted maestra Xian Zhang, this is one opera Washington and the world will be talking about for years to come.

SYNOPSIS:

The Force of Destiny zooms in on one troubled family in the midst of an unhinged, lawless society. A displaced Marquis, desperate to hold on to his family's wealth and power, has attempted to prevent the union of his daughter, Leonora, with a foreigner, Alvaro, by removing her from their war-torn urban landscape to an exclusive hotel, some miles outside the city. But Alvaro will not be kept from his beloved, and when a midnight encounter leads to the Marquis' accidental death, the last ties binding the family are shredded. Leonora's brother, Don Carlo, vows revenge and returns to the city--where perversion, chaos, and violence abound--to hunt Alvaro. Meanwhile, Leonora seeks anonymous refuge in a monastery, but the power of fate proves too strong: the three are inexorably drawn together, and the two remaining members of the ill-fated family meet a tragic end.

CAST AND CREATIVE TEAM:


Donna Leonora of Vargas: Adina Aaron (10/12, 16, 20, 24, 26), Amber Wagner (10/18 & 22)
Don Alvaro: Giancarlo Monsalve (10/12, 16, 20, 24, 26), Rafael Davila (10/18 & 22)
Don Carlo of Vargas: Mark Delavan (10/12, 16, 20, 24), Luca Salsi (10/18, 22, 26)
Preziosilla: Ketevan Kemoklidze
Brother Melitone: Valeriano Lanchas
Father Guardiano: Enrico Iori
Marquis of Calatrava: Peter Volpe

Set Designer: Peter Davison
Costume Designer: Catherine Zuber
Lighting Designer: Mark McCullough
Choreographer: Eric Sean Fogel

Performed in Italian with projected English titles. Titles may not be visible from the rear of the orchestra. Performance Timing: Acts I & II - 80 min.; Intermission - 20 min.; Acts III & IV - 87 min. (3 hours, 10 min.)

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COME EARLY FOR FREE OPERA INSIGHTS:

Musicologist Saul Lilienstein leads the Thursday, Oct. 24 Opera Insight, starting 1 hour and 15 minutes before the performance and lasting 35–40 minutes. All other Opera Insights start 1 hour before the performance and last 20–25 minutes.
Informative and entertaining, Opera Insights take you inside the composer's mind, behind the scenes of planning a production, and into the history and social context of each opera.
These lectures are free, but patrons must present a ticket from any performance of The Force of Destiny.
--
Oct. 12 at 6 p.m.: Andrew Jorgensen, director of artistic planning
--Oct. 16 at 6:30 p.m.: Andrew Jorgensen
--Oct. 18 at 6:30 p.m.: Andrew Jorgensen
--Oct. 20 at 1 p.m.: Francesca Zambello, artistic director
--Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m.: Francesca Zambello
--Oct. 24 at 6:15 p.m.: Saul Lilienstein
--Oct. 26 at 6 p.m.: Andrew Jorgensen

STAY AFTER FOR A FREE ARTIST Q&A ON THE FORCE OF DESTINY:

Following these performances:
Sunday matinee, October 20
Tuesday evening, October 22
Join WNO artists for a unique opportunity to ask questions about the production.
All discussions begin immediately after the performance and are free with your ticket.

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FROM THE PROGRAM NOTES:
 
In Don Álvaro, or The Force of Fate, the play that inspired Verdi's The Force of Destiny, a sense of displacement underlies the action from the beginning. The Marquis of Calatrava disapproves of Don Álvaro, who has asked for the hand of his daughter, Leonora. In an attempt to cool their mutual attraction, he has removed Leonora from Seville to the countryside.

The sense of rootlessness is intensified after a midnight encounter leads to the accidental death of the Marquis. Leonora, disguised as a man, seeks refuge, where she can be alone and assuage her guilt. Alvaro flees, seeking cover in the military under an assumed name. Leonora's brother, Don Carlo, disguised as the student "Pereda," hunts for the pair to avenge his father's death.

In WNO's production, this rootlessness and deception are given expression in an urban landscape, a world of lawlessness and corruption where no one and nothing can be trusted. This teeming city, from which the Marquis tried in vain to protect his daughter, becomes the arena in which the events of Act II play out. It is a world in which the family ties and traditions--to which the late Marquis tried, in vain, to cling to--no longer have any meaning. Don Carlo's actions are driven less by a desire to uphold the family's honor than by hatred for the foreigner, Don Alvaro.

Meanwhile, a war rages, and Alvaro and Carlo each take up arms. Although they are united briefly against a common enemy, Carlo renews his vows of revenge when he learns the identity of his comrade. Reports of the dead and wounded contribute to the numbing of the moral response, in the city and the country alike--there is a sense that anything goes, a feeling of displacement, a general hopelessness. Only Leonora and Alvaro cling to the hope of redemption, separately seeking refuge, where they can repent their love and the chain of events it sets into motion.

Watch and Listen

WNO Commentary: The Force of Destiny 1 of 7: Overture and Act One: At the Calatrava Palace in Seville, mid-18th century (audio only)

Musicologist Saul Lilienstein offers his commentary on The Force of Destiny, featuring insights about the music and history. Musical excerpts used courtesy of EMI Classics.
WNO Commentary: The Force of Destiny 2 of 7: The dramatic structure (audio only)

Musicologist Saul Lilienstein offers his commentary on The Force of Destiny, featuring insights about the music and history. Musical excerpts used courtesy of EMI Classics.
WNO Commentary: The Force of Destiny 3 of 7: Act Two: Scene One: In the village of Hornachuelos. Scene Two: At a nearby monastery (audio only)

Musicologist Saul Lilienstein offers his commentary on The Force of Destiny, featuring insights about the music and history. Musical excerpts used courtesy of EMI Classics.
WNO Commentary: The Force of Destiny 4 of 7: Giuseppe Verdi, in his sixth decade (audio only)

Musicologist Saul Lilienstein offers his commentary on The Force of Destiny, featuring insights about the music and history. Musical excerpts used courtesy of EMI Classics.
WNO Commentary: The Force of Destiny 5 of 7: Act Three: In Italy, during the War of Austrian Succession (audio only)

Musicologist Saul Lilienstein offers his commentary on The Force of Destiny, featuring insights about the music and history. Musical excerpts used courtesy of EMI Classics.
WNO Commentary: The Force of Destiny 6 of 7: La Forza: gestation, revisions, decisions (audio only)

Musicologist Saul Lilienstein offers his commentary on The Force of Destiny, featuring insights about the music and history. Musical excerpts used courtesy of EMI Classics.
WNO Commentary: The Force of Destiny 7 of 7: Act Four: Scene One: At the monastery. Scene Two: At a nearby grotto (audio only)

Musicologist Saul Lilienstein offers his commentary on The Force of Destiny, featuring insights about the music and history. Musical excerpts used courtesy of EMI Classics.
AUDIO PREVIEW: The Force of Destiny

Zambello hosts this audio preview of Verdi’s The Force of Destiny, which opens October 12 in the Kennedy Center Opera House. Musical excerpts courtesy of EMI Classics.

Related Events

The Force of Destiny: Creating the Vision Join The Force of Destiny director Francesca Zambello, along with other members of the creative team behind this new production, for a discussion about bringing this demanding Verdi masterpiece to the stage.

Verdi at 200 with Saul Lilienstein Musicologist Saul Lilienstein uses the opera The Force of Destiny as a starting point to examine the musically rich middle period of Giuseppe Verdi, the most important of all Italian composers.  

All events and artists subject to change without prior notice.

Group of 20 or more? Group Sales offers special terms and discounts for most performances.

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