Wally, La
  • Alfredo Catalani. Dramma musicale in four acts. 1891.
  • Libretto by Luigi Illica, after the story Die Geyer-Wally by Wilhelmine von Hillern.
  • First performance at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, on 20th January 1892.
CHARACTERS

Wally

soprano

Stromminger, her father

bass

Afra, a landlady

contralto

Walter, a strolling minstrel

soprano

Giuseppe Hagenbach, of Solden

tenor

Vincenzo Gellner, of Hochstoff

baritone

The Messenger of Schnals

tenor

Stromminger mocks the skill of the young huntsman Hagenbach, son of his enemy, and abuses the young man’s father, only to be thrown to the ground. Stromminger has been drinking with Gellner, who has been promised the hand of Wally, Stromminger’s daughter, in marriage. She is in love with Hagenbach. A year later the landlady of The Eagle in Solden, Afra, is betrothed to Hagenbach. Stromminger is now dead and Wally is rich and likely to come to the festival at Solden, where she may see Hagenbach. She tries to rid herself of Gellner and dances with Hagenbach, who has wagered that he will have a kiss from her. His intentions are not serious, shown by the reversed feather in his hat, and he kisses her, to the amusement of the onlookers and to her anger. Wally tells Gellner that if he wants her, Hagenbach must die. In the third act Wally is at home, having second thoughts about her request. Gellner comes to her room, telling her that he has pushed Hagenbach to his death. Wally sets out to rescue him and succeeds in pulling him back from the abyss where he has fallen, returning the kiss he had given her so lightly. By the glacier near her house, Wally thinks of death. She is joined by Hagenbach, now recovered and professing his love. As he goes to find the path down, there is an avalanche and he is swept away. Wally now throws herself down, falling to her own death.

La Wally, with its Tyrolean setting, remains the most successful of Catalani’s five operas. It provides sopranos with the first-act aria Ebben? Ne andrò lontana (Well? I’ll go far away). An orchestral interlude prepares for the last act, as Wally stands tired and in despair by the side of the glacier, in a work that maintains a certain level of operatic realism.