Reine de Chypre, La (‘The Queen of Cyprus’)
- Hugh Macdonald
(‘The Queen of Cyprus’)
Opérain five acts by (Jacques-François-)Fromental (-Elie) Halévy to a libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges; Paris, Opéra, 22 December 1841.
This opera is famous for its association with Wagner, who was employed during his first stay in Paris arranging the vocal score, and who wrote admiringly of it in his reports to the Dresdener Abend-Zeitung. Set in 1469 at the time of the Venetian annexation of Cyprus, the opera was regarded by some as superior even to La Juive, and the last act duet between Catarina Cornaro (contralto) and her lover Gérard (tenor) is one of Halévy’s greatest scenes. Catarina, a Venetian, is betrothed against her will to Lusignan, king of Cyprus (baritone). When Gérard is set upon by assassins acting on the orders of Mocenigo (baritone), member of the Council of Ten, he is saved by an unknown man who turns out later to be Lusignan, his rival for the hand of Catarina. Lusignan dies defending his kingdom against the Venetians....