Giuseppe Verdi, 1813-1901. Overture to La Forza del Destino. Completed 1861, revised 1869, first performance of the opera November 10, 1862, in St. Petersburg. The overture dates from the 1869 revision and was scored for flute, piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, cimbasso (a type of tuba), tympani, bass drum, and strings. La Forza del Destino (``The Force of Destiny'') was Verdi's first ``foreign'' commission in nearly 25 years. Shortly after completing the work, he traveled to St. Petersburg to supervise the premiere, only to discover that the principal singer had become ill, and that there were no musicians capable of replacing her. He convinced the management to substitute a simpler work, and to postpone the premiere until the following fall. The opera was criticized somewhat when it finally appeared, yet had considerable success. Notable issues included the storyline, which many found too bloody even for the traditionally murderous operatic stage. Destiny, personified by a curse on the principal characters, eventually led to the death of nearly everyone involved in the opera. Verdi removed some of the deaths after the first performance, but this quick fix was not enough to satisfy either him or the audiences, and Verdi soon withdrew the work from Italian performance. Seven years later, at the urging of his publisher, Verdi returned to La Forza in an attempt to find what he called ``that damned ending.'' This time he was successful, redesigning the four acts so that each had a distinctly different character. The curse remained, as did the deaths, yet the overall impression of the opera was far less depressing. The new version was premiered at La Scala on February 20th, 1869, to great acclaim. It is the 1869 version that has survived to become popular with audiences worldwide.
The overture, which was written as part of the revision, concentrates primarily on two themes: a rushing ``fate'' motive first heard in the strings, and a slower, more lyrical melody taken from a prayer sung in the second act by the doomed soprano. Although the piece is typical of its genre in being rather hastily thrown together, it interweaves its ideas pleasantly and forms a fitting introduction to a passionate opera.
- Composer: by Giuseppe Verdi transcribed by Takayoshi "Tad" Suzuki