La Vestale

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  1. Spontini La Vestale
  2. La Vestale Di Satana
  3. La Vestale Imslp

La vestale, Spontini Mariinsky Theatre Saint Petersburg, Russia Performances (1) Available online until Friday, 31 July 2020 17:00 PST Full Production Video.

  • La vestale = The vestal: a serious opera in two acts: as represented at the King's Theatre in the Haymarket. Brettell, Rupert-Street, Haymarket and sold at the Opera-House, and no where else, London, monographic, 1813.
  • La vestale by Gaspare Spontini is one of those operas of which the name is widely known yet its music is barely known at all. In this context, one must add the word 'today'. Two centuries ago, this opus proved a staggering success and made its creator the foremost opera composer of the Napoleonic age.
  • In addition to this Vestale, 1970 saw Scotto performing a number of operas much identified with Callas: La Sonnambula in Madrid, La Traviata in Verona, and Lucia di Lammermoor in Marseille, as well as her controversial debut in I Vespri Siciliani on La Scala’s opening night, the occasion of a widely-seen backstage photo of Scotto (still in costume) greeting Callas.
  • Gaspare Spontini was an Italian ex-pat who made his name in Napoleonic France. La Vestale, first performed in 1807, deals with the conflicting demands of sex, religion and empire in its depiction.
Saverio Mercadante

La vestale (The Vestal Virgin) is an opera by Italian composer Saverio Mercadante. It takes the form of a tragedia lirica in three acts. The libretto, by Salvadore Cammarano, was influenced by Victor-Joseph Étienne de Jouy's libretto for Spontini's more famous 1807 opera of the same name.

The opera's first performance took place at the Teatro San Carlo, Naples, on 10 March 1840.

Performance history[edit]

After its first performance, the opera was one of the most frequently performed of Mercadante's operas, with around one hundred and fifty given.

The opera was revived at the Wexford Festival in 2004. Cast members included Doriana Milazzo as Emilia and Dante Alcalá as Decio.[1]


Roles, voice types, premiere cast
RoleVoice typePremiere cast, 10 March 1840[2]
Conductor: Antonio Farelli
Emilia, a vestal virginsopranoAdelina Spech-Salvi
Giunia, another vestal and Emilia's friendmezzo-sopranoEloisa Buccini
Decio, a warrior and Emilia's lovertenorDomenico Reina
Publio, Decio's friendbaritonePaul Barroilhet
Licinio Murena, a consul and Decio's fathertenorTimoleone Barattini
Lucio Silano, a consulbassMichele Benedetti
Metello Pio, the High PriestbassPietro Gianni
La gran vestale (the chief Vestal Virgin)mezzo-sopranoAnna Salvetti


Place: Ancient Rome
Time: the Gallic Wars

Act 1[edit]

A sacred wood

Emilia, who believes that her lover, the warrior Decio, is dead, has joined the Vestal Virgins. The Gran Vestale (High Priestess) announces that Decio has defeated the Gauls. Emilia, unable to escape from her new position, is comforted by her friend Giulia, also a vestal virgin. When Decio arrives, he is aghast to discover that, of all the vestal virgins, it is Emilia who presents him with the laurel wreath. Alone, they lament their fate, but Decio decides that he will defy the Goddess. His friend Publio tries to keep him on the right side of the law, but eventually agrees that he will help Decio to see Emilia in secret in the Temple.

Act 2[edit]

Scene 1: The Temple of Vesta

Giulia (should this be Giulia or Guinia?) is praying for Emilia, while the Gran Vestale warns Emilia that if the sacred flame is allowed to go out, Rome will be in danger and the guardian of the flame will have to die. Decio arrives through the secret passage, leaving Publio to keep watch. Decio and Emilia are in despair and he threatens to commit suicide. Emilia dissuades him, but suddenly the flame goes out. Publio pulls Decio away as Emilia faints and is attended by Giunia. Metello arrives, admonishes the vestal virgins, and insists that Emilia be tried by the Senate.

Scene 2: In the sacred wood outside the Temple

The Senate gathers, and Licinio (Decio's father) condemns Emilia to death. Giunia tries to take the blame, but Emilia rejects her offer. Decio asks Licinio to spare Emilia, but his father disowns him.

Act 3[edit]

Outside Emilia's tomb

Publio attempts to change Licinio's mind, pointing out that Decio is contemplating suicide. Licinio is adamant that the law must take its course. Emilia, who has lost her reason, thinks that her funeral cortège is for her wedding. However, approaching her tomb, she recovers and bids farewell to Giunia and the vestals. Decio and his troops arrive, but it is too late. He attacks Metello, but Licinio intervenes. Decio decides to join Emilia in death and commits suicide.

La Vestale


YearCast: Emilia,
La Gran Vestale,
Giunia, Decio
opera house and orchestra
1970Angela Vercelli,
Licia Falcone,
Miriam Pirazzini,
Giuseppe Gismondo
Giuseppe Ruisi,
Orchestra of Altamura and Chorus of Altamura
(Recording of a performance at Civitavecchia on 26 August)
78rpm: A.N.N.A. Record Company
Cat: ANNA 1012
1987Dunja Vejzović,
Filka Dimitrova,
Paola Romanò,
Gianfranco Cecchele
Vjekoslav Šutej,
Teatro Nazionale Croato di Spalato Orchestra and Chorus
CD: Bongiovanni
GB 2065/66-2
2004Doriana Milazzo,
Danna Glaser,
Agata Bienkowska,
Dante Alcalá
Paolo Arrivabeni [de],
Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra and Wexford Festival Opera Chorus
(Recorded at performances in the Theatre Royal, Wexford on 23, 26, 29 October)
CD: Marco Polo
Cat: 8.225310-11


La Vestale
  1. ^Tom Kaufman, 'Mercadante: Il vestale' on, 24 January 2006. Retrieved 27 January 2013
  2. ^Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). 'La vestale,10 March 1840'. L'Almanacco di Gherardo Casaglia (in Italian).
  3. ^Recordings of La vestale,

Further reading[edit]

  • Rose, Michael (1998), 'Mercandante, (Giuseppe) Saverio (Raffaele)' in Stanley Sadie, (ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, vol. 3, pp. 334–339. London: Macmillan Publishers, Inc. ISBN0-333-73432-7ISBN1-56159-228-5
  • Rose, Michael (2001), in Holden, Amanda,(ed.), The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam, Inc. ISBN0-14-029312-4

Spontini La Vestale

External links[edit]

La Vestale Di Satana

  • La vestale (Mercadante): Scores at the International Music Score Library Project

La Vestale Imslp

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