Battaglia di Legnano, La (The Battle of Legnano)
  • Giuseppe Verdi. Tragedia lirica in four acts. 1848.
  • Libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, after La Bataille de Toulouse (The Battle of Toulouse) by Joseph Méry.
  • First performance at the Teatro Argentina, Rome, on 27th January 1849.
CHARACTERS
Federico Barbarossa bass
First Consul of Milan bass
Second Consul of Milan bass
Mayor of Como bass
Rolando, a Milanese leader baritone
Lida, his wife soprano
Arrigo, a soldier from Verona tenor
Marcovaldo, a German prisoner baritone
Imelda, maid to Lida mezzo-soprano
Squire to Arrigo tenor
Herald tenor

Arrigo and Rolando, with their fellow soldiers, the Lombard League, swear to defend their country against Barbarossa. Lida, with whom the German prisoner Marcovaldo is in love, to her annoyance, was formerly betrothed to Arrigo, before her marriage to Rolando, when she thought her lover dead. Arrigo and Rolando, in Como, try to muster support against Barbarossa, who himself shows them the power of his army. In Milan Arrigo joins a band of patriots, swearing to fight to the death to rid Lombardy of foreign domination. Rolando is their leader. Lida writes a letter to Arrigo, intercepted by Marcovaldo, who gives it to Rolando. He now swears revenge on Arrigo and his wife Lida, finding them, innocently enough, together. Putting personal feelings aside, he leaves for battle, shutting Arrigo in his room, to dishonour him. Arrigo leaps down from the balcony, but in battle, in which the Lombards are victorious, is mortally wounded, brought back to die in Milan Cathedral. He is reconciled to Rolando and Lida as he dies.

Verdi’s opera celebrates the national aspirations of the Italy of his time against Austrian domination. It was, at the time, topical, and has since then suffered from this. The overture is occasionally heard in the concert hall, while the oath scene by the patriots has its own place in operatic literature.