Verdi’s seventh opera, “Giovanna d’Arco,” had its world premiere on Feb. 15, 1845, at La Scala in Milan.
It was one of many operas that has attempted to tell the tale of the famed heroine, but like many others, it has yet to find a place in the standard repertoire. The opera has recently managed to get some more exposure thanks to the efforts of superstar soprano Anna Netrebko, who has championed the title role in concert and even at La Scala.
Short Plot Summary
Charles, the future King of France describes a dream he had of the Virgin Mary instructing him to surrender to the invading English army by a giant oak tree.
Meanwhile by a giant oak tree, Giacomo prays for his daughter who has been praying to become a warrior for the French army. Charles arrives to lay down the weapons but Giovanna has a dream that she will lead the French army to victory. She cries out with courage, gaining the approval of the King but to the dismay of her father who thinks she has sold her soul to the devil.
He goes to Commander Talbot of the English army, who has been defeated. He tells him that he wants to offer up his daughter as she is cursed.
Before Charles’ coronation, he declares his love for Giovanna. She is hesitant.
During a celebration of Giovanna’s victory, Giacomo denounces her in front of everyone. She does not defend herself.
Giovanna is captured by the English army and carried to the stake. She has visions of victories on the battlefield and prays to God for forgiveness. Giacomo overhears her and realizes his mistake. He saves her and she runs off to lead the French army once more.
Giacomo asks forgiveness from the King and he agrees. Giovanna dies on the battlefield but revives in time for her father to reclaim her and the King to profess his love. She ascends to heaven.
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Watch and Listen
Here is a production that stars Renato Bruson as Giacomo with Svetlana Vassileva as Giovanna.