Ruse State Opera
Conductor: Jose Cura
Mixed choir "Danube Sounds" - Russians
With the participation of the soloists, the Choir, the Ballet and the Orchestra of the Ruse Opera
In the mountains of Aragon, not far from the castle of Don Ruy Gómez de Silva, is the camp of the rebels led by Ernani. The people are resting or partying, but if they are cheerful, their captain feels his heart tight with fear and worry. He confesses to them, however, that he loves and is, in turn, beloved, but the dear girl is the niece and ward of the old duke Don Ruy Gomez de Silva, who intends to marry her. Ernani's comrades in arms don't think twice: they will help him kidnap his girlfriend.
In her loft in the castle of Silva, Elvira is waiting for Ernani. They will run away together. But it is not Ernani who walks into the room, but Don Carlos, the king of Spain, also in love with the beautiful young woman. She, however, rejects him and, pulling the dagger from his hip, is determined to use the cold blade, either against the king or herself. That's when Ernani enters. The king recognizes him, but the rebel is as fearless as he is unyielding: he accuses the king of having tried to seduce his lover, after he killed her father and robbed her, along with her fortune, of her very name. The girl's efforts to quell the confrontation of rivals are in vain. Indignant, pained, offended, Don Ruy Gómez de Silva discovers the presence of the two men in his fiancee's room. He challenges them to a duel. When one of the royal squires arrives, the old man realizes that he is facing King Charles of Spain himself. He claims that he came to ask his faithful vassal for advice on the matter of succession to the throne of the great empire that had once been under the scepter of Charlemagne. Ernani, the king explains further, is part of his retinue. Saved in this way by Carol, the young rebel has no choice but to leave, unable to shake the desire for revenge against the tyrant king from his heart.
Before the wedding of Elvira with Don Ruy Gómez de Silva, the great hall of the castle is filled with guests. Enter, asking for shelter, and a pilgrim. It's really Ernani. The appearance of Elvira in the form of a bride redeems him. He thinks he's cheated. Anger and pain drive him to recklessness: he offers the duke, as a wedding gift, his own life - the life of the rebellious Ernani, the one whose company was defeated by the king's troops, the one on whose head a heavy price of gold is pressed. De Silva, great senior, obeys only the laws of honor: he will not hand over the rebel to the pursuers, whoever they may be. The castle will give him shelter of mystery and hope. In the brief respite of solitude, Ernani reproaches Elvira for betraying their love. But the girl had not betrayed him: she had decided to take her own life during the wedding. Tears of joy take the place of tears of pain. De Silva catches them embracing. His honor is threatened and the old duke must seek revenge. The duel is prevented by the arrival of the king. Afraid that de Silva might turn Ernani in, Elvira takes everything upon herself. But De Silva is not a traitor and, above all, he cannot be satisfied with such an easy revenge. Risking his life and the good will of the sovereign, he refuses to reveal Ernani's hiding place. The castle is ransacked to no avail. However, the king is determined to go all the way: torture will know how to squeeze out the truth. Elvira intervenes and draws Carlo's attention to her, and he changes his mind: he will take her, the desired hostage, in exchange for the rebellion. Left alone with de Silva, Ernani accepts death but asks to see his beloved one more time. When he learns that the king has taken her with him, he offers to fight alongside the duke against their common rival, after which he will submit to the duke's decision. He vows to kill himself the moment he hears the hunting horn signal given to de Silva.
De Silva and Ernani join the League of Conspirators who, in the name of freedom, aim to kill the king in Aachen, where the Great Electors are preparing to elect the new emperor. The conspirators meet at the tomb of Charlemagne. Here comes the king to surprise them. His thoughts turn to the huge personality of his illustrious predecessor, and the greatness of his own mission is suddenly revealed to him: he will change, he will himself be just, dignified, and virtuous like the great emperor, and his name will shine, like a light, through the ages. The fates appoint Ernani to carry out the murder, and he refuses to cede this honor to de Silva, not even in exchange for erasing the suicide vow. Tolling of bells announces the appointment of the new emperor. Charles, now Charles the Fifth, appears from behind Charlemagne's tomb and orders the punishment of the conspirators: the commoners will be imprisoned, and the nobles, beheaded. Ernani asks to share the fate of the latter, for he is also a noble. His name is Don Juan de Aragon. Elvira's antics, her own oath just spoken near the crypt of Charlemagne are enough: Charlemagne will begin his new reign with clemency. The conjurers are forgiven and the girl will belong to Ernani. Silva alone does not join the grateful cheers, tormented as he is by his unquenchable thirst for revenge.
From the terrace of Don Juan de Aragon's palace in Zaragoza, the echo of his wedding celebration with Elvira can be heard. Among the guests, a gloomy figure makes its way. But the happiness of the young couple is too short-lived: the horn signal sounds - de Silva has arrived to remind Ernani of the fulfillment of the covenant and, mercilessly, leaves him only one choice: the dagger or the poison. The pleas are in vain. Ernani ends his life and Elvira follows him. Revenge has been fulfilled.