A chamber in the municipal palace. Boemondo and Ubaldo, seated.
All is already arranged,
the profound silence of the night
already surrounds the
Prison of Sigifredo. This secret
Is well hidden in the hearts of my men...
And in my heart as well.
Guido will fall into our net. Here she is now.
You see me in the dust... at your feet...
Strike, strike the daughter, o Boemondo,
And let the father live.
Give in to my will and he will live.
Can it be true?... Explain.
Ubaldo, tell her what my irrevocable will is.
(He gets ready to leave. Elena takes several steps, as if begging, and wanting to speak to him.)
You must obey... blindly obey.
Pronounce then my sentence.
Hear me; in order to save your father’s life
it is necessary that to Imberga
Guido doth offer his hand.
And he will not do so
unless an eternal barrier arises between you.
You must follow another man to the altar...
Another man! And you are he?
True, it’s me who burns and yearns
With love for you...
With love!... Your vile heart
Does not know what love is.
I would have given everything
to help my friend...
But to see him as your husband!
But to know that he is at your side!...
The thought is worse than death.
And drives me to the blackest deeds!
I have violated my trust...
I have betrayed my friend...
Do you realize, woman...
What love has driven me to do!
A smiling Heaven offered me
all the happiness a heart could wish for!...
I lost all... unhappy me!
All fled in a moment!...
My lover must now know me to be
unfaithful and a traitress! ...
I will be loathed by him,
cursed and despised!...
No, the eternal gods
could not wish such a living death for me.
You refuse then?
I would sooner descend into the freezing abyss.
Stubborn woman, you
would be preceded there by others.
Already in a secret dungeon
they are building a scaffold... tremble!
When you will hear the chimes
of the great chapel announce the day’s
last hour, know that Sigifredo’s
accomplices are dying!
Yield or on the block he, too...
Woe is me! Father! Say no more... I yield...
I will be your wife.
(Oh great joy!...)
Shortly, in Boemondo’s
presence, you will appear to confirm these words with a sacred oath.
Enough... I promised... I will swear...
You saved your father...
Guido!... I have lost thee!...
Every day my love for you
will deepen and grow warmer...
I promise to adore you,
as one does love an angel.
Even a horrible destiny
would be happy if shared with you...
Death in your arms
would be happiness to me.
O my lost hopes,
it was my duty to abandon you.
Do not stain me with unfaithfulness...
I was a daughter before I loved you.
My destiny is finished.
I feel death in my breast...
Not the altar, but the tomb
(turning to Ubaldo in desperation)
you should open to me.
Boemondo’s apartments. A secret entrance opens at the rear, from which Guido appears, preceded by many armed men who leave by another route.
What will come next! I had hardly returned
to the city, and while at the gates
Boemondo’s warriors appeared
demanding that I speak to him,
Brought me through this secret entrance.
I could hear my heart beat
on arriving here...
As a man who is going into a feared
and horrible dungeon! Terrible suspicion!
Perhaps he knows?... Perhaps a cruel deceit
brought me here! ...
Perhaps revenge and death await me!
He would not dare
to dip his hands into my blood:
Yet, is not that evil man,
that inhuman monster
capable of any betrayal,
capable of any horror?
But come what may
I defy the barbarian’s rage –
I may die, but I shall be true
to you, my dearest soul.
With your name on my lips,
with your name in my heart!
Incautious! Your plans are known to me:
The injury is still awake within me;
both the scorn and the disdain.
But I will not reproach you
for a mistake already punished.
You are betrayed.
No. By the perfidious woman who was unfaithful to you.
That flighty heart...
She loves another.
Vile calumny!... Such
an outrage is not possible.
You will yourself...
What are you saying
bear witness to the truth.
(Oh rage!...) Hear me yet.
(Boemondo gives him the sign to be quiet and wait, then leaves)
Cruel, horrible doubts!...
He lied!... But why?... He lied...
No, you are not guilty
soul of my soul...
Ah! if an angel can betray me,
where can I find fidelity!
Oh Heavens, if I must learn
of such a betrayal,
Heaven, kill me with a thunderbolt...
Death would be better for me.
Magnificent hall, splendidly decorated in order to celebrate the defeat of Belluno. Knights and ladies from Boemondo’s court, Ubaldo among them.
Ezzelino’s barmer is already
waving in the wind over Belluno;
the Lombard legions fought in vain
against the brave Ghibellines.
The Italian countryside will
soon be free of Guelfs.
To the sword of the mighty
all will have to yield.
Boemondo leads Imberga in; Guido follows them. At Boemondo’s arrival everybody bows.
Knights, my daughter has come with me
to partake in all this joy.
(The ladies approach Imberga while the knights surround Boemondo.)
Through you, the people
of Feltre shall know that this wicked age
calls for blood, but that mercy
is not a stranger to Boemondo
and that he will not permit
the shame and grief due a father’s misdeeds,
affect his innocent daughter.
The deed will now bear witness to my words:
Behold what lady will now enter my walls.
(A door opens through which Elena enters)
It’s true. The daughter of your mortal enemy...
Yes, of him
who dared to seize my lord’s dominions
in Feltre; he left as a fugitive,
branded a traitor.
(Oh lying heart!)
Deprived of her father,
she needs a protector;
and will have one. A powerful knight
loves her and is loved in return... Now name him,
repeat the pledge
That always precedes the nuptial rite.
(Ah! cruel earth, open to hide me.
I cannot find the words!... Fatal moment!...
(She is uncertain!)
(My heart is trembling!...)
Boemondo and Imberga
(I already feel, I already sense
the supreme joy of revenge!)
(Speak to my heart voice of my father,
to me you are the voice of God...
Give me faith, eternal goodness;
place the words upon my lips...
Let all other love die in my heart...
Let the daughter gladly die for her father.
Guido and Ubaldo
(Another moment, another word
will decide my fate!...
I tremble, sigh, hope and fear
like a man suspended between life and death!
I freeze with fear, burn with love...
No heart can sustain such an assault. )
Boemondo and Imberga (softly to Elena)
Cruel daughter, if you hesitate more
the tomb will open for your father!
Knights and Ladies (softly among themselves)
(She is uncertain... Her heart is trembling!
Guido is disturbed! – So is Ubaldo!
And she is turning very pale! )
Cease your thoughts,
you have been silent for too long.
You have no one to fear here.
I am here, I, you understand?
Elena (She is still hesitant but sees a tremendous menace in Boemondo’s looks. Pulling herself together, she says the following lines as one ready to die. )
I love Ubaldo... and swear to him...
My faithfulness... as a wife...
I have heard the truth!...
(like a man who has lost his reason)
You swore?... And to him?...
So vilely am I betrayed!...
Traitress... Oh what words
could rebuke you enough?
(Ah! terrible oath! ...)
Go... you don’t deserve my ire... I despise you.
A humbled man
dares to ask your pardon...
Ah! forget what has happened before,
and your husband, Imberga, I will be...
You will have to account to me,
with your blood, traitor....
(rushes towards Ubaldo with his drawn sword)
Ah... I am wild with rage...
A demon will preside,
foresworn ones at your wedding...
Let not the slightest blessing
be granted to you...
And near your detested nuptial
couch, remorse will be awake...
Let the Heavens make you
even more miserable than me.
(There is no torture to equal this!...
There is no more cruel martydom!...
Each of his words cuts like a knife!
Each moment I feel myself dying!
And how that wretch is enjoying
(observing the joy in Boemondo’s eyes)
the suffering of this heart!...
Can you not help me,
o Lord, with your justice?)
Ubaldo (to Guido)
My bosom is throbbing
with the greatest love for Elena...
I could try to crush it,
but cannot change my heart.
Your blind rage in vain
curses me for my blessings...
Earth will be a heaven
of bliss for her and me!
Boemondo and Imberga
(Wicked one, this is only the beginning
of your punishment:
Your father’s outrage was tremendous,
and your payment will be greater.
More grievous blows await thee,
such is our vengeance
that the icyness of death
would be less cruel to you! )
Chorus (to Guido)
Cease, or at least hide
the passion raging in your breast.
Give your hand
to a more worthwhile object...
Don’t let such a blind love
stain your heart...
Hide it with an eternal veil
and perhaps you will forget.
(Guido leaves in a great rage, all follow him except Ubaldo and Elena. The latter falls on a chair in desperation. )