- Michele Girardi
Dramma musicale in four acts by Alfredo Catalani to a libretto by Luigi Illica after Wilhelmine von Hillern’s story Die Geyer-Wally; Milan, Teatro alla Scala, 20 January 1892.
The action takes place in the Tyrol in about 1800. In the village of Hochstoff the rich landowner Stromminger (bass) taunts Haghenbach (tenor), from the rival village of Sölden, on his return from a hunting expedition. Stromminger’s daughter Wally (soprano) tries to make peace between them and sends away the young huntsman, for whom she shows an obvious partiality; this in turn annoys the factor Gellner (baritone), secretly in love with her, who reveals his feelings to the still angry Stromminger. When her father insists that she must marry Gellner, Wally refuses and he banishes her. She goes off into the mountains with her friend Walter (light soprano), and a year later returns to claim the estate she has inherited from her now deceased father. She goes to Sölden for a festival and in a fit of jealousy over Haghenbach insults Afra (mezzo-soprano), a tavern owner, having been wrongly led to believe by Gellner that Afra is betrothed to the man Wally loves. To avenge the insult, Haghenbach consents to dance with Wally and gives her a kiss, swearing falsely that he loves her. The mockery of the bystanders makes Wally aware of the truth, and she promises to marry Gellner if he will kill Haghenbach. The same evening Haghenbach, who realizes that he loves Wally, goes to Hochstoff to see her but is attacked by Gellner, who hurls him into a ravine. Wally, overcome by remorse, rushes to save him and returns him to Afra, to whom she leaves all her wealth. She goes away before the young man recovers, returning to her refuge in the mountains, and is eventually joined by Haghenbach, who tells her of his love. The couple are finally reconciled, but as they seek the path back the young man is carried away by an avalanche. Calling his name in vain, Wally flings herself into the abyss....