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1 (Mozart: Don Giovanni). Sop. Donna Elvira, a lady from Burgos, who has been seduced by Don Giovanni and then deserted by him. She comes to Seville to find him, despite his terrible reputation which is catalogued by his manservant Leporello. She saves the young and newly married Zerlina from his clutches and helps Donna Anna and Ottavio unmask him as a murderer. Aria: Mi tradì (‘I was betrayed’; this aria did not appear in the f.p., it was added for the Vienna premiére in 1788). This is one of many operatic roles which, described in the score as ‘soprano’, is equally well sung by a mez. with a good top. In recent years, Agnes Baltsa, Maria Ewing, Della Jones, Waltraud Meier, and Felicity Palmer are among mezzos who have sung Elvira. Created (1787) by Catarina Micelli.

2 (Bellini: I Puritani). See Walton, Elvira.

3 (Rossini: L'italiana in Algeri). Sop. Wife of Mustafà, the Bey of Algiers. He no longer loves her and orders his slave to marry her, but he has to beg her forgiveness when Isabella leaves him. Created (1813) by Luttgard Annibaldi.

4 (Verdi: Ernani). Sop. Ward of the old grandee, Silva, who wants to marry her. She is also loved by Don Carlos, King of Spain, and by Ernani, whom the king outlawed. As her wedding to Silva is planned, Ernani breaks in, hoping to abduct her. Caught by Silva, he refuses a duel, but promises his life in forfeit if Silva ever wants it. Carlo is elected Emperor, forgives Ernani and consents to Ernani and Elvira's wedding. After the ceremony, Silva wreaks his revenge and Elvira throws herself on to Ernani's body. Aria: Ernani! Ernani! involami (‘Ernani! Ernani! fly away with me’). Created (1844) by Sofia Loewe (Loevve) (who caused havoc by instructing the librettist to write a special aria with which she could close the opera, as she didn't approve of ending with a trio. Verdi stuck to his guns. At the premiére, she apparently sang flat the whole evening). The character on whom Elvira is based, Doña Sol in Victor Hugo's Hernani, was one of Sarah Bernhardt's greatest roles.

Subjects: Opera.

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