(Verdi: Les Vêpres siciliennes). Sop. Duchess, sister of the assassinated Duke Frederick of Austria. She is in love with Henri, a young Sicilian. She agrees to help Jean de Procida, a loyal Sicilian, to rout the French and at a masked ball at the Governor's palace they conspire to kill the Governor, Montfort. By now Henri has learned that he is Montfort's illegitimate son, and he foils their attempt. The conspirators are arrested and imprisoned. Henri visits Hélène in prison and tells her the truth of his relationship to Montfort, and she forgives him. Montfort agrees to allow them to marry if Henri acknowledges him as his father. The wedding is planned, but at the last minute Procida tells Hélène that the sound of her wedding bells is the signal for the Sicilians to rise. She tries her best, but it is too late to call a halt to the ceremony. The bells sound and the French are massacred. Aria: Merci, jeunes amies (‘Thank you, young friends’). This aria, usually known as the Bolero (in the score Verdi called it a Siciliana), is a wonderful display piece, written in the high register for much of its length. Created (1855) by Sophie Cruvelli (who caused great consternation during the rehearsal period by totally disappearing for several days: she had been on holiday with Baron De Vigier, the man she eventually married). See also Helen of Troy (1).