Verdi – Pace, pace mio Dio from La Forza Destino — Act IV, Scene 2

by Max Derrickson

Giuseppi Verdi

Pace, pace mio Dio from La Forza Destino — Act IV, Scene 2

Verdi sets the plight of two ill-fated lovers, Alvaro and Leonora, upon the larger context of Italy’s longing quest for independence from Austria near the end of the 18th Century.  The lovers are also tragically pitted against prejudice, hate and blind vengeance; all seemingly fueled by an unstoppable current of Destiny, begun by an innocent act, yet ending with ghastly consequences.

At the outset of the story, Alvaro and Leonora are hopelessly in love.  Leonora’s father, a Spanish dignitary, cannot accept Alvaro’s “half-caste” Peruvian-Incan blood as sufficient lineage for his daughter, and so, the two lovers attempt to elope.  They are discovered
[. . .]

Alvaro is relentlessly pursued by Carlo.  His hounding leads Alvaro to the church to take his vows, but even this sanctuary cannot abate Carlo’s blind hate.  Over the course of about 6 years, Fate has kept Alvaro and Leonora apart, both assuming the other dead, with Leonora fading away in torment in her cave and Alvaro still distraught of that fateful accident that changed his and his lover’s destiny.  Meanwhile, Carlo finds Alvaro again and goads him into a sword fight, ending in Carlo’s mortal wounds.  He pleads for his last rites,
[. . .]

In Act IV,
[. . .]
In one of the most moving and beautiful arias in opera, she beseeches God to end her joyless life.  Verdi’s score beneath Leonora’s exquisite melody is some of his most brilliant: through the veneer of the lovely and poignant musical scene, the harmonies are complex and agitated, continually shifting,
[. . .]

Act IV: Scene 2: A Wild Spot Near Hornachuelos [stage directions]

A valley among inaccessible rocks, traversed by a stream.  At the right is the entrance to a grotto and above it a bell which can be rung from within.  It is sunset.  The scene darkens gradually and a full moon appears.  Leonora, pale and wan, enters from the grotto, in great agitation.