Release Date
August 2023
3 hours 30 minutes
Hernani by Victor Hugo - (full title: Hernani, ou l'Honneur Castillan) is a drama in rhyming alexandrines by the French romantic author Victor Hugo.

The title originates from Hernani, a Spanish town in the Southern Basque Country, where Hugo's mother and her three children stopped on their way to General Hugo's place of residence.

The play was given its premiere on 25 February 1830 by the Comédie-Française in Paris. Today, it is more remembered for the demonstrations which accompanied the first performance and for being the inspiration for Giuseppe Verdi's opera Ernani than it is for its own merits. Hugo had enlisted the support of fellow Romanticists such as Hector Berlioz and Théophile Gautier to combat the opposition of Classicists who recognised the play as a direct attack on their values.

Set in a fictitious version of the Spanish court of 1519, it is based on courtly romance and intrigues. Three men - two noblemen and a mysterious bandit - are in love with the same woman. What follows in the ensuing chaos of action prompted the biographer of Hugo, J.P. Houston, to write '... and a résumé [plot synopsis] will necessarily fail, as in the case of Notre-Dame de Paris, to suggest anything like the involution of its details'.

In the first scenes Hugo introduces Don Carlos, King of Spain (the future Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor) sneaking into the bedchamber of Doña Sol. He forces her maid to help conceal him within the room. Shortly thereafter, Doña Sol enters to welcome her lover Hernani. Hernani and Sol discuss their situation _ Doña Sol is about to be forced to marry her elderly uncle, and Hernani is a bandit whose father was executed by the previous King. Hernani and Doña Sol plot to run away together, but Don Carlos emerges from the cabinet where he was hiding, disrupting them. The two men clash swords, but are interrupted by Sol's uncle and fiancé Don Ruy Gomez de Silva. He demands to know why both men are in Sol's private chambers. Don Carlos reveals his identity, and asserts that he had come hoping to meet Ruy Gomez to discuss the recent death of Emperor Maximilian, and claims that Hernani is a member of his entourage, thereby allowing everyone to leave peacefully.
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