Sunday, March 23, 2014— 2:30pm
in ITALIAN with english surtitles
200TH ANNIVERSARY OF VERDI'S BIRTH
A charismatic pastor, Stiffelio, returns from a mission to find that his pious wife Lina has committed adultery. Her father is convinced of her infidelity but has no proof. A duel between the father and the perceived seducer brings retribution but no peace. Stiffelio is then torn between his need to forgive and his desire for revenge. A final confrontation confirms Lina’s innocence.
Michael Rose, Music Director and Pianist
Robert Cooper, Chorus Director
Ernesto Ramirez as Stiffelio
Laura Albino as Lina
Geoffrey Sirett as Count Stankar
Hassan Anami as Raffaele
Marco Petracchi as Jorg
Dina Shikhman as Dorotea
Salzburg, Austria, mid-19th century. Lina, the daughter of Count Stankar, is married to Stiffelio, a Protestant minister. Stiffelio has just returned from a mission, and Jorg, an elderly pastor, leads a group of his followers in a prayer for him. Among them is the nobleman Raffaele, who seduced Lina during her husband's absence. Stiffelio enters and tells the assembled crowd how a boatman reported to him that several days before he saw a man jump from an upstairs window of Stankar's castle. The boatman recovered some papers that the fleeing man lost and gave them to Stiffelio. Lina and Raffaele realize that their affair has been discovered, but Stiffelio, not wishing to expose any guilty secrets, throws the papers into the fire without looking at them. Stankar suspects that his daughter has been unfaithful.
Left alone with his wife, Stiffelio talks about the moral decline he has seen everywhere on his journey.
Finding Lina indifferent to him, he recalls their wedding day, as well as his mother's ring, which sealed their vows. He is shocked to discover that the ring is missing from Lina's hand, and when she refuses to tell him why, he suspects that she has betrayed him. He leaves, determined to discover what has happened. Lina prays to God for guidance. She begins to write a letter of confession to Stiffelio but is interrupted by her father, who accuses her of ruining the family name and forbids her to reveal the truth. After both have left, Raffaele enters with a letter for Lina. Unaware that Jorg is watching him, he hides it in a locked book, Klopstock's Messiah, to which both lovers have keys.
During a reception for Stiffelio, Jorg tells the minister of the letter. Stiffelio bitterly announces that his next sermon to be on Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus. As if to illustrate the point, he asks for the Messiah. Finding the volume locked he demands Lina's key and, when she refuses, breaks the book open. Before Stiffelio can read the letter, Stankar tears it up. The preacher angrily confronts his father-in-law while Lina begs that her husband's rage fall upon her instead. Stankar challenges Raffaele to a duel.
Lina prays for forgiveness at her mother's grave. When Raffaele appears, she rejects his protestations of love and demands the return of her ring. Stankar enters and provokes Raffaele into a swordfight, which is interrupted by the arrival of Stiffelio, who tries to intervene. Stankar refuses to be calmed and reveals that Raffaele is Lina's lover. On hearing this, Stiffelio seizes Stankar's sword and challenges Raffaele himself. Jorg reminds the minister that his followers are waiting for him in the church. Stiffelio struggles for self-control, reminded that Christ died pardoning all mankind.
Despondent, Stankar considers taking his own life, then resolves that he must duel with Raffaele to avenge his family's honor. He leaves, and Stiffelio and Raffaele enter. The minister asks his rival what he would do if Lina were free to marry, but Raffaele is unable to answer. Stiffelio tells him to wait in an adjoining room while he talks with Lina. When she appears, Stiffelio demands a divorce. Lina protests violently and declares that her love for her husband has never wavered. Stiffelio is unmoved. She then asks if she may address him not as her husband but as a man of God and confesses that Raffaele seduced her. Just as Stiffelio is about to confront her lover, Stankar enters with a bloody sword in hand, announcing that honor has been defended.
The congregation, including Lina and her father, has assembled in church. Stiffelio opens the Bible, determined to take inspiration from whatever he finds. It is the story of Jesus and the adulteress. He begins to read. When he reaches the words, "And the woman rose, forgiven," he looks straight at Lina and she knows she is forgiven.