What's impressive about Luisa Miller is, most of all, the psychological refinement used to picture the characters. Framed in a formal structure which isn't far from the previous operas, Verdi approaches to passions, revenge, striving for power and filial bond by concentrating on the intimacy used to describe them. We witness to a change from a dimension which was “unanimous” to one that is “individual”, which, especially if referred to the character of Luisa, looks new in all its complexity: starting from being a candid girl she gains, act by act, almost tragic depth and intensity, so to make us think of her as a middle-class heroin: a preview of the feminine character of Violetta in La Traviata, a more defined one. The extreme distinction of the characters, which arises from this intimate component, is the reflection of a music that goes straight to the intimacy of the people, which from now on will be at the centre of Verdi's belief on drama.
Synopsis Luisa Miller
Luisa is the daughter of an old soldier and is in love with a young man she knows as Carlo. His real name is actually Rodolfo and he's the son of a local lord, Walter. Miller, Luisa's father, is dubious, and his fears are confirmed when Walter's retainer, Wurm, also in love with Luisa and hoping to marry her, reveals Rodolfo's true identity. In Walter's castle, Wurm reveals to his master Rodolfo's love for Luisa. Walter resolves to end their relationship, because he hopes to have his son marry the widowed duchess, Federica. Left alone with Federica, Rodolfo reveals that he loves another, but the duchess refuses to break their engagement. Meanwhile Miller tells his daughter that Rodolfo has deceived her and is about to contract a wealthy marriage. The young man, however, comes to plead his sincerity. When Walter arrives to prevent the couple to be reunited and is about to have both Luisa and her father consigned to prison, Rodolfo threatens to reveal how his father, with Wurm's assistance, murdered his cousin to gain his present position, securing the freedom of his love and the father.
Luisa learns that her father has been jailed for insulting Walter. Wurm informs her that the only way she can save him is to write a letter admitting she sought Rodolfo for his wealth, and pledges herself to Wurm. Then she must go to the castle and declare her love for him before the duchess. Wurm presents Luisa's letter to Walter, and the two plan to send it to Rodolfo. Being goaded on with threats by Wurm and Walter against her father, Luisa professes her love for Wurm to Federica. Rodolfo receives Luisa's letter. Desperate, he is about to attack Wurm when Walter appears and persuades him that marrying Federica will be the best way for him to avenge Luisa's treachery.
Miller, released from prison, tries to comfort his daughter and the two agree to leave the village the next day. As Luisa prays, Rodolfo enters and pours a vial of poison into a decanter on the table. He confronts Luisa with the letter. When she cannot deny she wrote it, Rodolfo asks her to pour him a drink and when he says it tastes bitter, she swallows some too. Rodolfo tells Luisa the cup was poisoned, and she, released from her vow, tells him the truth. As Luisa dies in her father's arms, Rodolfo kills Wurm.