ⓘ I Lituani


ⓘ I Lituani

I Lituani is an opera consisting of a prologue and three acts by Amilcare Ponchielli to an Italian libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, based on the historical poem Konrad Wallenrod written by Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz. It premiered at La Scala in Milan on 7 March 1874.


1. History

Casa Ricordi commissioned Ponchielli to write the opera, and the idea to use Konrad Wallenrod came from Salvatore Farina, a novelist and playwright working for Ricordi. The opera was extremely well received when it opened, and a second, final version with additional material was performed again a year later also to good reviews. It continued to be performed in the last decades of the 19th century in Cremona, Trieste, Brescia, Rome, Turin, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Chicago, and a single noteworthy Russian performance in 1884 at the Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre in Saint Petersburg with the title Aldona.

After a three-night run in 1903 at La Scala, where the casting was particularly poorly reviewed, I Lituani was not performed again until 1979 when RAI recovered the score. Since then, it has been revived in Chicago 1981, 1983 and 1991, Toronto 1981, Cremona 1984, Vilnius 1991 and Trakai 2009.


2. Synopsis

Place: Lithuania prologue, Marienburg acts I-III Time: 14th century

Corrado Wallenrod, actually a Lithuanian named Walter who is impersonating a loyal Teutonic Knight, allows the Lithuanians to win against the Teutons by executing a long-planned misdirection. Aldona, his wife who has entered a convent, searches for her love Walter, and finds him just before he is sentenced to death for his deception.


2.1. Synopsis Prologue

From the battlements of a castle in Lithuania, Albano, an aged bard, moans that his country is being destroyed by the Teutons. Aldona, a Lithuanian princess, wonders about her brother, Arnoldo, and Walter, her husband, and invites everyone to pray. Arnoldo and Walter return and announce a heinous betrayal by Vitoldo, one of their leaders, which has led to the defeat of the Lithuanian army. Walter tells his wife about his plan to defeat the Teutonic Knights, and swears his eternal love for her before leaving to avenge the Lithuanians.


2.2. Synopsis Act 1

Ten years later, in the cathedral square of Marienburg, the Teutonic Knights celebrate the new Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, Corrado Wallenrod, who is actually Walter. Vitoldo is furious, because he believes he should be Grand Master. Ten Lithuanian prisoners in chains are brought to be sacrificed in Corrados honour at the celebration; Arnoldo is one of them. Corrado unexpectedly frees them, and afterwards Arnoldo realizes that Corrado is actually Walter. Arnoldo runs into his sister, Aldona, who has come to Marienburg after entering a convent, hoping to find Walter. Albano, Arnoldo, and Aldona set out to find Walter in the castle.


2.3. Synopsis Act 2

In a large hall of the castle where the celebration is being held, Corrado invites everyone to dance and sing. Arnoldo and Aldona, disguised as bards, sing about the sad fate of Lithuania, predicting its imminent liberation. The Teutonic Knights object, and Corrado hurls himself towards Arnoldo, while Aldona tries to separate them. Corrado orders the knights to sheath their swords, and Albano tries to convince Corrado not to give his true identity away. Vitoldo recognizes Aldona, but Corrado orders the judgement against Aldona and Arnoldo be adjourned so that the celebration can continue.


2.4. Synopsis Act 3

Aldona comes out of the ruins of a cloister, where a battle between the Lithuanians and Teutonic Knights is taking place nearby. She meets Walter, and hopes for a happy future of love, but Walter has been betrayed for causing the defeat of the Teutonic Knights by the Lithuanians. Later, back in the castle, Albano tells Walter that a secret court has sentenced Walter to death. Rather than falling into enemy hands, Walter drinks poison and exults in the victory of the Lithuanians, asking Albano to give Aldona his last farewell. Aldona arrives, and Walter dies in her arms. The Willi, divine spirits of Lithuania, arrive to welcome the glorious warriors soul.


3. Recordings

  • The first performance since 1903 was on January 12, 1979, by the Turin RAI Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Gianandrea Gavazzeni and featuring Alessandro Cassis as Arnoldo, Yasuko Hayashi as Aldona, Carlo de Bortoli as Albano, Ottavio Garaventa as Walter/Corrado Wallenrod, Ambrogio Riva as Vitoldo, and Susanna Ghione as a minstrel. Several aircheck recordings of this radio broadcast have been available on LP and CD, and more recently in January 2006, a CD was released that was remastered from the original RAI source tapes, which also includes the Italian libretto and an English translation. Bongiovanni GB 2390/91-2
  • Balkan Records released a 14 June 1981 recording of a live performance in Lithuanian with the Lithuanian Opera Company of Chicago Orchestra and Chorus. Balkan CCD-1018-2
  • performing the rarely staged Rossini s William Tell 1986 and Ponchielli s I Lituani 1981, 1983 and 1991 and also for contributing experienced chorus singers
  • may refer to: Aldona, a feminine given name Aldona, a village in India I Lituani an opera by Amilcare Ponchielli later performed as Aldona Aldona fungus
  • Teatro Vittorio Emanuele, Turin, 7 February 1859 Aldona in Ponchielli s I lituani La Scala, Milan, 7 March 1874 Mirza in Coronaro s La creola Teatro
  • was the first to cover the role of Sveno in I Goti by Stefano Gobatti 1873 Corrado of Wallenrod in I Lituani by Amilcare Ponchielli 1874 The Merchant
  • political pamphlet. Konrad Wallenrod has twice been turned into an opera: as I Lituani The Lithuanians by Italian composer Amilcare Ponchielli 1874 and
  • 1866 Aida 1870 Fosca 1873 and Salvator Rosa 1874 for Gomes, I Lituani for Ponchielli 1874 and the second version of La forza del destino 1869
  • in Milan, the latter in the role of Arnoldo in Amilcare Ponchielli s I Lituani On 17 October 1903 he portrayed the role of Athanael in the Italian
  • the Knights into defeat. The poem was later twice made into an opera I Lituani by Italian composer Amilcare Ponchielli in 1874, and Konrad Wallenrod
  • ballet Le due gemelle 1873 confirmed his success. The following opera, I Lituani The Lithuanians of 1874, was also well received, being performed later