In two acts by VINCENZO BELLINI.
Text by FELICE ROMANI.
This opera is decidedly of the best of Bellini's muse. Though it does
not reach the standard of Norma, its songs are so rich and melodious,
that they seem to woo the ear and cannot be heard without pleasure.
Add to these advantages a really fine as well as touching libretto, and
it may be easily understood, why the opera has not yet disappeared from
the stage repertory, though composed more than fifty years ago.
It is a simple village-peasant story, which we have to relate. The
scene of action is a village in Switzerland, where the rich
farmer Elvino has married a poor orphan, Amina. The ceremony has taken
place at the magistrate's, and Elvino is about to obtain the sanction
of the church to his union, when the owner of the castle, Count
Rudolph, who fled from home in his boyhood, returns most unexpectedly
and, at once making love to Amina, excites the bridegroom's jealousy.
Lisa, the young owner of a little inn, who wants Elvino for herself and
disdains the devotion of Alexis, a simple peasant, tries to avenge
herself on her happy rival. Lisa is a coquette and flirts with the
Count, whom the judge recognizes. While she yet prates with him, the
door opens and Amina enters, walking in her sleep and calling for
Elvino. Lisa conceals herself, but forgets her handkerchief. The
Count, seeing Amina's condition and awed by her purity quits the room,
where Amina lies down, always in deep sleep. Just then the people,
having heard of the Count's arrival, come to greet him and find Amina
instead. At the same moment Elvino summoned by Lisa rushes in, and
finding his bride in the Count's room, turns away from her in disdain,
snatching his wedding-ring from her finger in his wrath, and utterly
disbelieving Amina's protestations of innocence and the Count's
assurances. Lisa succeeds in attracting Elvino's notice and he
promises to marry her.
The Count once more tries to persuade the angry bridegroom of his
bride's innocence, but without result, when Teresa, Amina's
foster-mother, shows Lisa's handkerchief, which was found in the
Count's room. Lisa reddens, and Elvino knows not whom he shall
believe, when all of a sudden Amina is seen, emerging from a window of
the mill, walking in a trance, and calling for her bridegroom in most
All are convinced of her innocence, when they see her in this state of
somnambulism, in which she crosses a very narrow bridge without falling.
Elvino himself replaces the wedding-ring on her finger, and she awakes
from her trance in his arms. Everybody is happy at the turn which
things have taken; Elvino asks Amina's forgiveness and leaves Lisa to
her own bitter reflections.
Next: The Taming Of The Shrew