Opera in four acts. Music by Jules Massenet · Libretto by Adolphe-Philippe D'Ennery, Édouard Blau and Louis Gallet, based upon the eponymous tragedy by Pierre Corneille · Premiere: Paris, 30th November 1885, Opéra de Paris.
Le Comte de Gormas
Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana
Cor de la Generalitat Valenciana
24th, 27th, 30th April 2012
The action takes place in Burgos, the capital of the Kingdom of Castile, during the 13th century. A hall in the palace belonging to Count Gormaz. The nobleman tells those closest to him the news that Rodrigo, Don Diego’s son, has returned victorious from battle against the Moors and is going to be named knight by the king. Jimena, the count’s daughter, confides in the princess and tells her she is deeply in love with Rodrigo. Soon they will marry and both families have given their consent. The princess confesses that she is also secretly in love with Rodrigo, but that their love is impossible: the king’s daughter must marry someone of royal descent.
The cathedral bells ring out to celebrate Rodrigo’s success and the townsfolk acclaim him. The king names him knight and confers the title of private tutor to the princess on his father Don Diego, to the surprise of Count Gormaz, who had hoped to hold that position himself. The count angrily insults and slaps Don Diego, who asks his son to defend his honour. Rodrigo is dismayed to find himself obliged to fight a duel with his fiancée’s father. He debates between his love for Jimena and defending the honour of his family.
The count fights a duel with Rodrigo at the entrance to the palace, and the count is fatally wounded. Prostrate by her father’s body, Jimena swears vengeance.
The crowd celebrates the arrival of spring. Jimena appears and asks the king to avenge her father’s death. The king, who has been notified that the Moors have not surrendered and are willing to continue fighting, promises Jimena that he will seek justice once the military campaign is over. Rodrigo has been appointed head of the army.
Jimena’s chamber. Before leaving, Rodrigo manages to talk to his sweetheart and he realises that her love for him is as strong as her desire for revenge. She encourages him to fight with all his strength.
Rodrigo’s camp. The knight senses that defeat is near. Some of his men have deserted, threatened by the superiority of the Moorish army. Rodrigo prays and entrusts himself to God. St James appears to him and promises him that he will win the battle. Rodrigo leaves at sunrise with his soldiers, with renewed strength and in high spirits, and wins the battle for the Christians.
The first piece of news to arrive is that the army and Rodrigo have been defeated. Jimena, although thirsty for revenge, mourns the death of her beloved, along with Don Diego and the princess. The king interrupts with the good news that the Christian army has won and Rodrigo is on his way back.
The king asks Jimena to decide between the death or the forgiveness of the hero, as he had promised justice for the count when the war came to an end. When Rodrigo sees how much his sweetheart is suffering, he decides to take out his dagger to end his life. But Jimena stops him from doing so, forgives him and agrees to marry him, to everyone’s joy.