The Fairies (or, Le Villi) is an opera-ballet written by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini. It is a relatively short opera, with a run time of roughly one hour. It is Puccini's first stage work, and was written as a submission for a one-act opera competition. Puccini's opera did not win, but due to support from Puccini's colleagues, it was given a premiere on May 31st, 1884. The performance was a resounding success. It attracted the attention of Giulio Ricordi, the highly influential publisher, which led to a long-standing friendship between the two men.
The Fairies takes place in the Black Forest and follows the story of the village girl, Anna, and her fiancée, Roberto. The town dances in celebration over the engagement of the young couple. Roberto is leaving to collect an inheritance, and Anna has a gnawing feeling that she will never see him again. Roberto reassures Anna that everything will be fine. The crowd gathers to see Roberto off, and Guglielmo, Anna's father blesses the couple. On his journey, Roberto is entranced by sirens and forgets about Anna and his promise to her. Anna dies in absence while waiting for him to return. Guglielmo blames Roberto for Anna's death, and invokes the legend of the fairies, who seek vengeance upon those for whom a woman dies of a broken heart. Roberto eventually returns to Anna's house, hoping to find her. The ghost of Anna, along with the fairies, appears to Roberto and curses him for the suffering he has caused her. Roberto is forced to dance with Anna and the fairies until he falls, exhausted, at Anna's feet and dies in despair.
Fun fact: The opera was inspired by a short story by Alphonse Karr, called Les Willis (The Fairies or The Willis.)
What are the Villi?
Villi are properly known in English as Vilas. Vilas are creatures from slavic mythology that are beautiful, flighty, and highly temperamental. Showing similarities to fairies, nymphs, and sirens: Vilas turn violent when spurned by a man, and woe to the man who spurns a Vila!
Come and see our production of Puccini's The Fairies (Le Villi) on November 16th, 17th and 18th at Knox Presbyterian Church (50 Erb Street West, Waterloo). Get your tickets today before they run out!
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