A room in Ubaldo’s palace. Ubaldo is seated near a table immersed in a deep melancholy. His noble friends and the retainers of his powerful family approach him.
Turn Ubaldo, and reveal
your cruel sorrows –
It will be good to
share your grief with us,
and to shed your tears
in the bosom of your friends.
(softly among themselves)
He remains mute and motionless!...
Ignores our cheering words:
Ah! The unhappy man is
suffering from a secret sorrow!
The poor man is ageing
in the springtime of hi s life!
Dear friend I...
Ubaldo (aroused by Guido’s voice, rises and embraces him)
What has brought you to my home?
I will reveal it to you alone.
(The chorus leaves at a sign from Ubaldo.)
I need your courage, and I
need the help of your brave men.
Well you know
that the fierce Boemondo wishes
me to wed his haughty
daughter... I loathe her...
and plan to marry another woman.
And your promises Guido, your hopes
of regaining the power
that had been wielded by your ancestors?
I yield all to love.
I will hasten to find a shelter
in the castle of Comino’s lord and will return tomorrow.
Near the palace of my beloved
there is a chapel, and there I
will take her during the night
and once we are wed,
we will leave this gloomy town forever.
Well you know there are
spies all around us, who may
discover my plans. Can you promise
that with your brave band
you can assure my escape?
I swear it. And what
is the name of your beloved?
Elena degli Uberti.
Ubaldo (as if struck by a thunderbolt)
Elena!... (I freeze!...)
What is it?... You are trembling! You are
pallid. All your colour is gone!...
I? I tremble for you...
For you alone I tremble.
What evil genius, friend
has counselled you?
To love the daughter
of an outlaw who has just fled the scaffold?
You will call Ezzolino’s rage
down on your head.
Ah! No: change your mind...
And I should forget Elena?
You do not know what sweet enchantment,
what power draws me to her;
she is my destiny,
my life and my heaven.
I adore her; and only to love her
did the Lord give me a heart.
(I never believed that my fate
could be so horribly adverse...
Having lost her, all hope for me
is gone from my heart...
The Lord gives me continued life
only to live in bitter tears.)
My friend, I know you too well...
...to fear for your courage.
With your arms, you can give me...
(What did I promise?)
...assurance of an escape.
When the light of day
again makes the sea glimmer,
tomorrow, at my side,
in the chapel I will see you?
(What will I do, what will I do?) Yes...
An embrace... A kiss... Farewell...
(What did I promise!... What will I do?...)
In you I rely, in you I trust:
let friendship be the shield of love.
My heart is full of immense joy...
Ah! Share my joy with me.
Yes, I will share your joy with you,
friendship will be the shield of love.
(No heart on earth is
more torn than mine!)
(Guido leaves, Ubaldo falls into a chair.)
(after several moments of silence)
The mother dead, the father fled,
were the pretexts behind your rejections:
Ungrateful woman! You loved...
but not Ubaldo! – And, I, myself
should make my rival happy?
No – But... What to decide?
Boemondo will know all. Ah! I will
lose Guido, and not obtain
the fatal woman!
(remains quiet with his arms crossed, his stare fixed on the ground, then recovers as one who has reached a decision.)
Yes: I will abduct her... and be it
that friendship, my pledged word
so vilely I betray?...
I yield all to love! You said it yourself!
A hall with paintings in Sigifredo’s palace. Doors on each side and a balcony overhanging the gardens.
My father had to fly
from the ire of Ezzelino, and
that of Boemondo his equally cruel minister.
He was able to reach Belluno
and is now safe in its strong walls.
I am happy and will be even more so
when the sun sets tomorrow!
Vows formed by love, blessed
by paternal consent,
will be blessed tomorrow by Heaven as well!
Ah! How wonderful to think of my
sweet love and the coming joys...
I hear the hymns, I can see the altar
where I will be wed.
I will become yours,
yours forever, oh my dearest....
I know how much joy
the heavens created in these words!
Well, Gualtiero?... You seem agitated!...
It’s true... My entire being is moved...
I saw a pilgrim coming down the road that
leads into the forest. I went out to
meet him... Little did I dream who it would be!...
He followed me... see...
Sigifredo enters. Immediately on arriving he extends his arms to Elena and throws off the mantle that had formed a a part of his pilgrim’s disguise and which had put his face in the shadow. Gualtiero retires by a side door.
Oh my daughter...
You return here, here
where there is a price on your head!
My flight was in vain: Belluno fell,
it too fell into the power
of the barbarous Ezzelino.
Hating the Ghibellines,
a hospitable peasant hid me with my followers,
but a company of soldiers
What do I hear!...
Thanks to my pilgrim’s garb,
fate permitted me to escape,
but only me... I return to your
side so I can perish
in your arms, oh my daughter...
Hide... I hear footsteps!..
(Sigifredo leaves from the side opposite the one used by Gualtiero.)
Gualtiero (on the threshhold)
Him!... What to do?...
You come at a late hour!
I come in time to possess you. Come.
To my home
What are you saying!
Which you will only leave as my wife.
What do you dare?
You can no longer oppose my desires, cruel woman...
Heavens I... You are raving!
I only rave because of you! I am
on fire!... You must follow me...
Leave me... Stop...
No more delay!
Oh God!... Speak softly...
(looks as if earthbound to the door where her father is hiding)
Hear me: my armed men are near,
they await my summons.
Who dares to resist me?
Who can block my way?
(goes towards Elena as if to drag her away)
Sigifredo enters. He has thrown away his pilgrim’s garb and holds his unsheathed sword in his right hand.
Sigifredo!... A demon brought him here!...
God, an avenging God
has led me here, you traitor:
Honour in a terrible voice
cries out for blood...
And with your blood, you villain,
I will wash off the outrage.
I shake with rage,
and wish to unsheathe my sword;
I should punish
your rash ire...
But I hesitate to rob
the hangman of his rights.
A single cry, a single word
would seal thy doom!...
Remember the scaffold
erected by your cruel foes!...
Remember that your daughter
could never survive you.
Draw thy sword and follow me,
or I will call you coward.
I a coward!... Ah, I am blind with rage!... Let’s go.
No... First you must kill me, wretch...
(falling at Ubaldo’s feet and clasping his knees)
Ubaldo’s followers enter, followed by Gualtiero and a company of soldiers.
Chorus of followers (rushing in)
We are here to come to your aid!...
Gualtiero (extremely frightened)
Hostile fate! A troop of soldiers heard the shouts
and is coming here.. .
Gualtiero, Elena (pushing Sigifredo towards the gardens)
It’s too late.
The Head of the Soldiers
Whom do I see!...
(Ah, what did I do!...)
Sigifredo (throws down his sword)
(I am lost.)
The rebel Sigifredo!
The Head of the Soldiers
It cannot be...
Take pity on her...
No human force can separate us.
Daughter, farewell, forever farewell...
I am prepared for the torture;
but the honour of my blood
will remain unstained on earth.
This is the end of my misfortunes;
the axe will be a triumph for me...
Comfort your wounded heart,
your father will be happier in Heaven.
Father...father...they are cruel...cruel...
Tigers... furies from Hell,
plunge your swords into my breast,
but do not expect to separate me
from my father’s breast while yet I live.
Let us defy a cruel fate
and face death together,
And together, dearest father,
we will meet God in Heaven!
(What will you do, unhappy Elena...
Heaven will comfort you.
Woe is me, I am accursed by Heaven.
Strife and death followed
my coming to this place...
As a sinner who has offended God,
I bring misfortune with me!
I have the pangs of
a horrible remorse in my heart...
Ah! My friend is avenged
and I am accursed by Heaven.)
Sad night!... horrible fate!...
Miserable woman, heaven will comfort youl
Oh! How cruel.
An icy death is within my bosom!
Prepare thyself, wretched man,
For the most cruel tortures.
(Elena is separated from her father and as she sees him dragged off brutally, she faints in Gualtiero’s arms. Ubaldo leaves disconsolate, followed by his men. )
A chamber in the municipal palace. Boemondo and Ubaldo, seated.
All is already arranged,
the profound silence of the night
already surrounds the
Prison of Sigifredo. This secret
Is well hidden in the hearts of my men...
And in my heart as well.
Guido will fall into our net. Here she is now.
You see me in the dust... at your feet...
Strike, strike the daughter, o Boemondo,
And let the father live.
Give in to my will and he will live.
Can it be true?... Explain.
Ubaldo, tell her what my irrevocable will is.
(He gets ready to leave. Elena takes several steps, as if begging, and wanting to speak to him.)
You must obey... blindly obey.
Pronounce then my sentence.
Hear me; in order to save your father’s life
it is necessary that to Imberga
Guido doth offer his hand.
And he will not do so
unless an eternal barrier arises between you.
You must follow another man to the altar...
Another man! And you are he?
True, it’s me who burns and yearns
With love for you...
With love!... Your vile heart
Does not know what love is.
I would have given everything
to help my friend...
But to see him as your husband!
But to know that he is at your side!...
The thought is worse than death.
And drives me to the blackest deeds!
I have violated my trust...
I have betrayed my friend...
Do you realize, woman...
What love has driven me to do!
A smiling Heaven offered me
all the happiness a heart could wish for!...
I lost all... unhappy me!
All fled in a moment!...
My lover must now know me to be
unfaithful and a traitress! ...
I will be loathed by him,
cursed and despised!...
No, the eternal gods
could not wish such a living death for me.
You refuse then?
I would sooner descend into the freezing abyss.
Stubborn woman, you
would be preceded there by others.
Already in a secret dungeon
they are building a scaffold... tremble!
When you will hear the chimes
of the great chapel announce the day’s
last hour, know that Sigifredo’s
accomplices are dying!
Yield or on the block he, too...
Woe is me! Father! Say no more... I yield...
I will be your wife.
(Oh great joy!...)
Shortly, in Boemondo’s
presence, you will appear to confirm these words with a sacred oath.
Enough... I promised... I will swear...
You saved your father...
Guido!... I have lost thee!...
Every day my love for you
will deepen and grow warmer...
I promise to adore you,
as one does love an angel.
Even a horrible destiny
would be happy if shared with you...
Death in your arms
would be happiness to me.
O my lost hopes,
it was my duty to abandon you.
Do not stain me with unfaithfulness...
I was a daughter before I loved you.
My destiny is finished.
I feel death in my breast...
Not the altar, but the tomb
(turning to Ubaldo in desperation)
you should open to me.
Boemondo’s apartments. A secret entrance opens at the rear, from which Guido appears, preceded by many armed men who leave by another route.
What will come next! I had hardly returned
to the city, and while at the gates
Boemondo’s warriors appeared
demanding that I speak to him,
Brought me through this secret entrance.
I could hear my heart beat
on arriving here...
As a man who is going into a feared
and horrible dungeon! Terrible suspicion!
Perhaps he knows?... Perhaps a cruel deceit
brought me here! ...
Perhaps revenge and death await me!
He would not dare
to dip his hands into my blood:
Yet, is not that evil man,
that inhuman monster
capable of any betrayal,
capable of any horror?
But come what may
I defy the barbarian’s rage –
I may die, but I shall be true
to you, my dearest soul.
With your name on my lips,
with your name in my heart!
Incautious! Your plans are known to me:
The injury is still awake within me;
both the scorn and the disdain.
But I will not reproach you
for a mistake already punished.
You are betrayed.
No. By the perfidious woman who was unfaithful to you.
That flighty heart...
She loves another.
Vile calumny!... Such
an outrage is not possible.
You will yourself...
What are you saying
bear witness to the truth.
(Oh rage!...) Hear me yet.
(Boemondo gives him the sign to be quiet and wait, then leaves)
Cruel, horrible doubts!...
He lied!... But why?... He lied...
No, you are not guilty
soul of my soul...
Ah! if an angel can betray me,
where can I find fidelity!
Oh Heavens, if I must learn
of such a betrayal,
Heaven, kill me with a thunderbolt...
Death would be better for me.
Magnificent hall, splendidly decorated in order to celebrate the defeat of Belluno. Knights and ladies from Boemondo’s court, Ubaldo among them.
Ezzelino’s barmer is already
waving in the wind over Belluno;
the Lombard legions fought in vain
against the brave Ghibellines.
The Italian countryside will
soon be free of Guelfs.
To the sword of the mighty
all will have to yield.
Boemondo leads Imberga in; Guido follows them. At Boemondo’s arrival everybody bows.
Knights, my daughter has come with me
to partake in all this joy.
(The ladies approach Imberga while the knights surround Boemondo.)
Through you, the people
of Feltre shall know that this wicked age
calls for blood, but that mercy
is not a stranger to Boemondo
and that he will not permit
the shame and grief due a father’s misdeeds,
affect his innocent daughter.
The deed will now bear witness to my words:
Behold what lady will now enter my walls.
(A door opens through which Elena enters)
It’s true. The daughter of your mortal enemy...
Yes, of him
who dared to seize my lord’s dominions
in Feltre; he left as a fugitive,
branded a traitor.
(Oh lying heart!)
Deprived of her father,
she needs a protector;
and will have one. A powerful knight
loves her and is loved in return... Now name him,
repeat the pledge
That always precedes the nuptial rite.
(Ah! cruel earth, open to hide me.
I cannot find the words!... Fatal moment!...
(She is uncertain!)
(My heart is trembling!...)
Boemondo and Imberga
(I already feel, I already sense
the supreme joy of revenge!)
(Speak to my heart voice of my father,
to me you are the voice of God...
Give me faith, eternal goodness;
place the words upon my lips...
Let all other love die in my heart...
Let the daughter gladly die for her father.
Guido and Ubaldo
(Another moment, another word
will decide my fate!...
I tremble, sigh, hope and fear
like a man suspended between life and death!
I freeze with fear, burn with love...
No heart can sustain such an assault. )
Boemondo and Imberga (softly to Elena)
Cruel daughter, if you hesitate more
the tomb will open for your father!
Knights and Ladies (softly among themselves)
(She is uncertain... Her heart is trembling!
Guido is disturbed! – So is Ubaldo!
And she is turning very pale! )
Cease your thoughts,
you have been silent for too long.
You have no one to fear here.
I am here, I, you understand?
Elena (She is still hesitant but sees a tremendous menace in Boemondo’s looks. Pulling herself together, she says the following lines as one ready to die. )
I love Ubaldo... and swear to him...
My faithfulness... as a wife...
I have heard the truth!...
(like a man who has lost his reason)
You swore?... And to him?...
So vilely am I betrayed!...
Traitress... Oh what words
could rebuke you enough?
(Ah! terrible oath! ...)
Go... you don’t deserve my ire... I despise you.
A humbled man
dares to ask your pardon...
Ah! forget what has happened before,
and your husband, Imberga, I will be...
You will have to account to me,
with your blood, traitor....
(rushes towards Ubaldo with his drawn sword)
Ah... I am wild with rage...
A demon will preside,
foresworn ones at your wedding...
Let not the slightest blessing
be granted to you...
And near your detested nuptial
couch, remorse will be awake...
Let the Heavens make you
even more miserable than me.
(There is no torture to equal this!...
There is no more cruel martydom!...
Each of his words cuts like a knife!
Each moment I feel myself dying!
And how that wretch is enjoying
(observing the joy in Boemondo’s eyes)
the suffering of this heart!...
Can you not help me,
o Lord, with your justice?)
Ubaldo (to Guido)
My bosom is throbbing
with the greatest love for Elena...
I could try to crush it,
but cannot change my heart.
Your blind rage in vain
curses me for my blessings...
Earth will be a heaven
of bliss for her and me!
Boemondo and Imberga
(Wicked one, this is only the beginning
of your punishment:
Your father’s outrage was tremendous,
and your payment will be greater.
More grievous blows await thee,
such is our vengeance
that the icyness of death
would be less cruel to you! )
Chorus (to Guido)
Cease, or at least hide
the passion raging in your breast.
Give your hand
to a more worthwhile object...
Don’t let such a blind love
stain your heart...
Hide it with an eternal veil
and perhaps you will forget.
(Guido leaves in a great rage, all follow him except Ubaldo and Elena. The latter falls on a chair in desperation. )
Hall in Sigifredo’s palace as in Act I. Elena, prostrate before a painting of her mother.
Mother, who is now in Heaven
and have trusted yourself to Him
whom us lowly mortals cannot grasp,
Ah, you teach me that this is not yet
the end of my days but prolonged death.
The trial is too hard, and hard for me to stand
weak and alone...
Someone comes... I see him!...
You here, while they are awaiting you
for your wedding
in the nearby chapel?
Yes, but before I will tie
the fatal knot that will drive me
to the tomb, I gave in to the strong desire
to speak to you.
All seems to point
to your betrayal... yet, in my heart
lingers a voice that
says you are not guilty.
I know that there,
in Boemondo’s presence, your lips
did utter horrible words! But did they come
from your soul? Or from some horrible betrayal....
Did fear of the tyrant
force them from your lips?
(How he touches
my wounded heart with his words!...)
We are alone here, and you can reveal
to me the truth. Speak,
but remember that you are deciding
my destiny as well as yours!
(I feel myself freezing!... )
Remember that you will open heaven or hell to me!
The sacred torches are already lit...
The chapel is filled with flowers...
Only I am absent...
Quiet... ah! quiet...
(I am overcome by jealousy!...)
If you love me no longer,
driven only by hatred
I will go to tie the knot
of a hated marriage...
And will leave you to your remorse,
will abandon you to your shame.
(I must drink of my cup
of grief, drop by painful drop.)
But; if you can still tell me
that you love me and are faithful:
I will kneel here at your feet...
As if I were before God.
(Help me, mother, or you will see me
defeated at last by all this anguish...)
Reveal yourself, be mine again...
And we will live blessed in this world,
one in the other forever entwined...
In an ecstasy of love!
(God, you see him... No human heart
can resist such enchantment!)
Speak... ah speak and I
will lead you to the altar as my own.
(He triumphs! ... ) Know, Guido,
that I never...
(The bell of the chapel sounds the last hour of the day: Elena is close to convulsions. )
Elena (with the sound of desperation)
That I never loved you,
that my soul belongs to Ubaldo,
that between us an eternal barrier
must be raised. ..
Eternal? So be it.
I will go to the chapel and then
I will make new vows...
This hand by you rejected
I will offer to another and then die!
Ah! You have betrayed
The most fervid and most sacred love...
You have torn a heart
that only lived for you...
Ah! My rage is frenzied and horrible
so that I can hardly think...
And the misery that you have cast on me
will surely be rewarded by Heaven.
Go to the altar and let your vows
be blessed by a God of love...
May my enemy have
your hand and your heart...
But let me have just
one drop of your tears...
Let it drop on the cold stone
beneath which I will soon sleep.
(Guido leaves in desperation, Elena retires.)
A room in Ubaldo’s dwelling as in Act I.
Oh unbelievable perfidy!.. Oh bloody,
I had descended to the dungeon,
in which Sigifredo was imprisoned,
in order to speed the moment
when his chains were to be broken...
Ah! But what horrible sight met my eyes!
Beneath the light of the torches,
I saw a scaffold bathed with blood!...
And at the feet of the hangman,
I saw his head shorn from his body!
I can still see that awful scene
and will remember it forever!...
A chill is going through my veins!
My hair is standing on end from this horror!
(Throws himself on a seat. A moment of silence.)
When she learns of this horrible deceit,
the daughter will be shocked with grief!
Alas! Her father’s life
was the price of her hand!
Then I must lose her!... I have, in vain,
stained my heart with a grave sin!.. .
What is left now – What? Revenge.
(The followers of Ubaldo enter.)
My comrades, arm yourselves...
The Guelf valour that flows through your veins,
must rise to avenge many insults...
I desire to see Elena again...
But if she should reject me...
Oh Boemondo, for your abominable crime,
you will have to atone with your blood.
Our suppressed ardor, our repressed hatred
will be awakened by one word from you.
If I should lose her whom I love.
Life will become a burden for me;
as for the reprobate, as for the damned
who has lost the hope of Heaven...
But tremble, villain, I have a heart and a sword...
And will make blood flow in rivers!...
I swear to commit outrages
that will make yours seem pale.
The moment of our vengeance draws near!...
And will be witnessed by Heaven and earth.
Elena’s room: two lateral doors; in the rear a large veranda from which one can see the dome of the cathedral; it is night. A candle is burning on a table. Elena, pale as death, is lying on a couch. Gualtiero is standing sadly nearby.
Elena (rises agitated, her legs trembling, her voice on fire)
Ubaldo should be bringing my father
here to my arms, having freed him...
The hour he was due has already passed,
and yet... his delay
makes me freeze!
I too tremble!
Go to my father’s dungeon, and ask to
learn the reason for the delay.
Oh Heaven... how can I, how can I leave thee
in the cruel state in which I find thee?...
Whether it be my prayer or my command,
go, do not delay... if you stay the uncertainty
will kill me.
(Gualtiero leaves: slowly an unexpected light fills the room. )
My heart is jumping!
(runs to the balcony)
Oh, what do I see!...
The wedding procession!
It is Guido... ah! Guido,
Beside his wife!... I will not,
I cannot bear it. Alas... They have reached the chapel!
They are opening the gates!... No... cruel ones! stop...
Let me die now... at least respect
these last moments
of an unhappy woman... Ah! death where are you?
Why are you so slow in coming?
(The bells are heard in a festive sound, then the following)
Oh You who made and rules
worlds without numbers,
You who gave to mankind
the holy laws of love,
turn to our altars
with a look of favour,
And unite in a holy bond
making two hearts into one.
The bells are silent!... The devout
songs have ceased!...
Sad, fatal silence!...
He... is now... making his vows!...
The terrible “yes” has been uttered,
it has been uttered, the heart has heard it!
(She falls on her knees and raised her eyes, bathed in tears, towards Heaven.)
By this horrible anguish
that will bring me to death...
Make his fate, oh Lord,
a better one!...
Guido is not guilty...
He was betrayed by a villain!
Ulbaldo... Oh deadly fear!...
(Ubaldo enters with his followers)
Where is my father?... Answer...
You will hear... But what a pallor?...
What horrible anguish in your eyes!...
Woman! You are failing! Oh God!
No... move away...
My father... my father?
If you delay...you will find
Your daughter dead...
Oh poor woman!
You have a father no more...
Know that by this wicked man...
(gives her the bloody scarf of Sigifredo)
He was beheaded.
The... hatchet... and... I!
Elena!... (she brings the scarf to her lips; but falls to the ground)
Gualtiero and Chorus
She has died!...
(Desperately thrusting his hands in his hair. Gualtiero, helped by Ubaldo’s men, raises Elena and lays her down on a seat. – A brief silence, – Elena reopens her eyes, which remain fixed on the sky, like a person having a celestial vision)
No, my father is not dead;
he waits for me on high...
He is giving me his hand...
I run... I fly to you...
In the blissful rapture
of your fatherly embrace
Heaven, heaven itself...
will be... more beautiful... to me!
Ubaldo (on his knees next to the deceased)
All my life... in tears...
I will live... on your ashes...
Gualtiero and Chorus
An angel was missing from
Heaven. God called her back to Him!