- Dennis Libby
Libretto subject used in many periods. Its chief source is Pierre Corneille ’s tragedy Le Cid; earlier sources are the plays of Guillén de Castro y Bellvís (1569–1631), Las mocedades del Cid and Las hazañas del Cid, and popular Spanish ballads. All recount the exploits of Rodrigo (or Ruy) Diaz de Vivar, a Spanish warrior of the 11th century (called El Cid after the Arabic sidi, ‘lord’). Librettos on the subject have been written in Italian (as Il Cid, Il Cidde or Il gran Cid) and German (as Der Cid) as well as French (as Le Cid); some operas are entitled Cimene, Chimène or Rodrigue et Chimène.
The subject of Corneille’s play was rarely used by Italian librettists, perhaps because, even watered down, Chimène’s pursuit of vengeance against Rodrigue through most of the work made difficult the contriving of amorous encounters between them, as the genre required. A three-act libretto by Alborghetti had a few settings between ...