|Pace, pace mi dio!, a setting by Francesco Maria Piave, was composed by Guiseppe Verdi and premiered in 1862 (Bb Major). This aria is part of Act IV of his opera, La forza del destino.
In 1962, year where La forza del destino was premiered, Verdi, in his forties, is an extremely famous composer. He has accepted to compose an opera at the demand of Alexander the second, tsar of Russia. However, when he arrives in St-Petersbourg, in 1861, to start the rehearsals, Emma La Grua, the soprano who should have premiered the role of Leonora, is taken ill. Verdi, at first, intended to terminate the contract between him and the Opera as he couldn’t find any suitable replacement. However, an agreement was reached and instead, the Opera was premiered a year later, in 1862.
Act I opens on the Marquis of Calatrava wishing his daughter, Leonora, good night. She stays awake, awaiting the arrival of Don Alvaro, a man she is passionately in love with. However, her father despises him (his origin isn’t high enough )and refuses her to marry him. Leonora has decided to escape with her lover, nonetheless, when he arrives, she hesitates to abandon everything. As they are about to leave, her father enters and furiously provokes Don Alvaro in duel. Alvaro refuses to fight and surrenders but as he flings his pistol down, it goes off and kills the Marquis of Calatrava. He dies, cursing his daughter.
Act II is set 18 months later in the inn of a village where Don Carlo of Vargas, the son of the Marquis of Calatrava and brother of Leonora, is planning to avenge his father. During the supper, all young men are urged to fight for Italy’s freedom and they all unite. In the next scene, Leonora, who is now separate from Don Alvaro, takes refuge in a monastery where she hopes to spend the rest of her life.
Meanwhile, in Act III, we discover Don Alvaro is now a soldier in the same regiment as Don Carlo (the two do not know their real identity). As Don Alvaro believes he is mortally wounded, he entrusts precious documents with Don Carlos, asking him to destroy them without ever reading them. Even if Don Carlos has sworn to do so, he opens the case and discovers Alvaro’s true identity. When he learns Don Alvaro will recover, he rejoices at the thought of avenging his father. He later begins a fight with Alvaro, but other soldiers pull him away. Don Alvaro vows to become a monk and remain in prayer for the rest of his life.
Act IV opens on Don Alvaro, who has become a monk in the same monastery where Leonora has found refuge. Don Carlo, who has managed to track him down, forces him to fight. In the meantime, Leonora in praying to find peace in death and expresses her anguish in her aria: Pace, pace mio Dio!.