At the grand celebration of Spain’s recent victories, Don Rodrigue receives great honors and praise from the king. Nothing could cement him more firmly in Chimène’s mind as her beloved, and now that her father, the Count of Gormas, has seen his worth on the battlefield, he has given his consent for the two of them to marry. Even the threatened rivalry from the king’s daughter could not take away Chimène’s dreams.
That is until the Count finds out that he is being passed over for the position of governor of the princess, and he is losing out to Don Diègue, Don Rodrigue’s father. He publicly challenges Don Diègue, and their argument comes to blows, but the elderly Don Diègue no longer has the strength to fight. His honor wounded, he begs his son to do his duty and avenge him. Don Rodrigue is bound by duty, although he knows it will destroy Chimène. He takes up his sword against the Count, and strikes him down.
Furious at what has happened, and betrayed by the man she loves, Chimène begs the king for justice for her father’s death. Before an answer can be given news arrives of the enemy approaching the city. They must respond immediately, and with the Count dead Don Rodrigue must take his place in leading the fight.
Despite her anger and the pain she feels at her father’s death, Chimène is still deeply in love with Rodrigue. How can she fight to restore her father’s honor while loving his murderer? Can the glory and honor of a victorious battle outweigh the dishonor he has dealt her? Could she justify marrying the man who killed her father, if he is a national hero? What if he returns with a new title, revered as ‘Le Cid’ by the Moorish kings? Chimène faces the toughest decision of her life.
Massenet’s operatic retelling of Pierre Corneille’s (Le Cid* brings this 17th century French drama into the 19th century, where it continues to question the weight of duty and honor imposed on children by the disputes of their fathers, and the power of love to conquer all.
Le Cid guide sections