La Somnambula





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

touching accents.



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.





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