Opera Profile: Verdi’s Patriotic ‘Attila’

By David Salazar

Verdi’s “Attila” had its world premiere on March 17, 1846, and was loved by the public, earning productions all over Italy.

However, it waned in the 20th century, falling out of favor and only receiving revivals when used as a vehicle for famed basses who have gravitated toward the complex title role.

The opera’s world premiere cast included bass Ignazio Marini in the title role with Sophie Löwe as Odabella and Natale Costantini as Ezio and Carlo Guasco as Foresto.

Short Plot Summary

After a victory, Atilla confronts Odabella, one of the prisoners of war. He offers her a boon and she asks for her sword with the intention of avenging her father’s death at Attila’s hand

The Roman Envoy Ezio seeks out Attila in hopes of dividing the empire, but he enrages the Hun instead.

On a swamp, Foresto and other survivors consider building a new city, though Foresto thinks of Odabella. Odabella thinks that Foresto is dead, but he appears and they reunite.

Attila awakens from a dream and tells Uldino that while asleep, he saw an old man stop him at the gates of Rome and warn him to go back. When he orders a march, he is thus confronted by that old man, who is the Roman bishop Leo.

At a banquet celebrating the peace, Ezio finds Foresto, who is in disguise; they join forces. Foresto’s plot to have Uldino poison Attila is then foiled by Odabella who wants her own revenge. Attila places Foresto under her captivity and declares that he shall marry her.

Foresto thinks that Odabella has betrayed him, but she pleads for his trust. Attila realizes that he has been betrayed and Odabella ultimately kills the hun.

Read More on “Attila”

A Look a Major Interpreters of the Opera

Watch and Listen

Here is a recording starring Samuel Ramey, Cheryl Studer, and Neil Schicoff.


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