Tag Archives: Donizetti

Don Pasquale, Glyndebourne, GFO, July 2017

What a pleasure to see Mariam Clément’s 2013 Festival production revived. On its revolving stage, split into three rooms, we see the charming Dr. Malatesta of Moldovan baritone Andrey Zhilikhovsky flitting like a spirit at the start of the performance. Malatesta is the soul of this opera, a Figaro-like character whose deceptions are the essence …

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Lucia di Lammermoor, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, April 2016

Arrogance. In her first classical opera for the ROH — she produced Written on Skin earlier — controversial theatre director Katie Mitchell treats Donizetti’s masterpiece with too little respect. Predictably enough it was loudly booed. I didn’t mind the change to the story where the women take control. Lucia seduces Edgardo, becomes pregnant — throwing up …

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La Favorite, UCL Opera, Theatre Royal Stratford East, March 2016

Donizetti’s La Favorite, once far more widely performed than it is today, is a triumph for UCOpera, who have brought this unfairly neglected work to stage in its original French version. The story is straightforward enough: a young novice monk, Fernand is rejected from the monastery after falling in love with a lady named Léonor, …

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Pia de’ Tolomei, English Touring Opera, ETO, Hackney Empire, March 2016

While working on the Siege of Calais, performed by the ETO this time last year, Donizetti and his librettist wanted to duplicate their great success with Lucia di Lammermoor. Casting around for another gentle and loving heroine, whose death would evoke huge pathos, they settled on Pia de’ Tolomei from Dante’s Purgatorio, and in James …

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Lucia di Lammermoor, Buxton Festival, July 2015

This interestingly minimalist production by theatre director Stephen Unwin sets the story in the 1940s with mafia overtones, particularly notable in the figure of Enrico’s retainer Normanno (Richard Roberts) a sleazy chain-smoker, tie-less and wearing a hat indoors even during the Act II wedding scene. ‘Tis he who writes the forged letter from Lucia’s beloved …

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Poliuto, Glyndebourne, GFO, May 2015

Composed for Naples in 1838, but banned because of the subject matter, it took another ten years before a production of the original was mounted in Italy, just a few months after Donizetti’s death. In the meantime Paris had taken it on as a grand opera under the title Les Martyrs, with a new text …

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The Wild Man of the West Indies, English Touring Opera, ETO, Hackney Empire, March 2015

This opera, mixing tragic and comic elements, has a Shakespearean tinge in the relationship of its main character Cardenio to a local slave named Kaidamà, like King Lear and his fool, though the ending is pure Donizetti. The back-story is that the unfaithfulness of Cardenio’s wife Eleonora — with his brother Fernando to boot — …

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The Siege of Calais, English Touring Opera, ETO, Hackney Empire, March 2015

Donizetti had once hoped to make his entry to Paris with this opera, but it was not to be. The weakness was Act III, wisely cut by James Conway in this production, leaving us with the departure of six burghers from Calais being sent to their deaths on the command of England’s king Edward III, …

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L’elisir d’amore, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, November 2014

With Lucy Crowe, Vittorio Grigolo and Bryn Terfel this was quite a cast, and under revival director Daniel Dooner they made the most of Laurent Pelly’s delightful production. In Act I the bikes, the dog, the funny swaying movements of the chorus, and the tiny version of Dulcamara’s van at the end all add colour, …

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Maria Stuarda, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, July 2014

In forty to fifty years time young audience members may take pride in saying they once saw Joyce DiDonato as Maria Stuarda. She was sensational, and when it was over and the curtain rose to reveal her centre stage, the thunderous applause was followed by huge cheers for other cast members until the production team …

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Roberto Devereux, Welsh National Opera, WNO, Cardiff, October 2013

Roberto Devereux formed a stirring finale to WNO’s three Donizetti operas about queens from the Tudor period. The strong cast included Leonardo Capalbo as Devereux, who sang the same role when Holland Park performed this opera in summer 2009, and his Act I duets with Elizabeth, the Duke of Nottingham, and Nottingham’s wife Sarah were …

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Maria Stuarda, Welsh National Opera, WNO, Cardiff, September 2013

In Schiller’s play Maria Stuart, the original drama for this Donizetti opera, Elizabeth I meets Mary Queen of Scots. Such a meeting never took place, but it makes for gripping theatre, and this second opera in the WNO ‘Three Queens’ series is a winner. The designs by Madeleine Boyd continue to use the sombre black …

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Anna Bolena, Welsh National Opera, WNO, Cardiff, September 2013

Three Queens is the main theme of Welsh National Opera’s Autumn 2013 season, which opened last night with Anna Bolena. This was Donizetti’s first really big success after more than thirty other operas, and its darkly dramatic atmosphere is well-served by Alessandro Talevi’s production. At the start of the opera Anne Boleyn’s power has already …

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The Siege of Calais, English Touring Opera, Hackney Empire, March 2013

This is stirring stuff. Although Donizetti’s L’assedio di Calais (The Siege of Calais) with its unsatisfactory third act is rarely performed, James Conway’s production, which eliminates Act III and its happy ending, is a revelation. This opera, which immediately followed Lucia di Lammermoor, deals with real historical events. In 1346, towards the start of the …

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Maria Stuarda, Metropolitan Opera live cinema relay, January 2013

Finally the Met have staged Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, an 1835 opera based on the play by Schiller written in 1800, where Mary Queen of Scots meets Elizabeth I of England. The meeting never took place, but the play makes for super drama, and the opera provides for some wonderful singing, with the two queens backed up and egged …

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L’elisir d’amore, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, November 2012

This 2007 Laurent Pelly production is set in 1950s Italy with Dulcamara, the charlatan purveyor of an elixir, arriving in an articulated lorry housing a mobile café. There are also bicycles, a moped and motor scooter, even a dog, giving a charmingly simple feel to the rural community. In dress rehearsal for this second revival the movements …

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L’Elisir d’Amore, Metropolitan Opera New York, live cinema relay, October 2012

The Met’s 2012/13 cinema season starts with a romantic comedy, but have no fear, some serious Shakespeare is on the way. In two and four weeks time they will broadcast Verdi’s Otello and Thomas Adès’s The Tempest. In the meantime this was a super L’elisir with Anna Netrebko as a sparkling Adina, and Mariusz Kwiecien as a charmingly forceful Belcore, producing …

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Lucia di Lammermoor, Opera Holland Park, OHP, June 2012

The new Holland Park season opened on a blustery cool evening, just right for the Scottish setting of Donizetti’s Lucia. Its plot, based on a novel by Walter Scott, is absolutely up to the minute in view of the government’s recent proclamation making forced marriage illegal, and costumes were appropriately modern. These omens turned out well, and …

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Anna Bolena, Metropolitan Opera live cinema relay, October 2011

This was the work that finally put Donizetti on the map. Having already produced over thirty operas in Italy, he suddenly became famous across Europe after the first performance in Milan on 26 December 1830. The first Anna was the amazing soprano Giuditta Pasta, who less than three months later created the role of Amina in La …

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The Elixir of Love, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, September 2011

A revival of Jonathan Miller’s production of Elixir, set in a diner in small town America, is an excellent way to start the new season. Miller’s production first appeared in early 2010, and the two stars of those performances returned to give us their best: Sarah Tynan as the saucy, sassy Adina, and Andrew Shore as …

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Don Pasquale, Opera Holland Park, OHP, June 2011

Don Pasquale is Donizetti’s sixty-fourth opera, and one of his most successful. The title character is a wealthy but crotchety older man who disapproves of the marital choice of his nephew Ernesto. This young man wants to marry the high-spirited, youthful widow, Norina, so Pasquale has decided to take a young wife for himself, and disinherit …

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Lucrezia Borgia, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2011

A mother’s anger leads unintentionally to the death of her adored illegitimate son. Shades of Verdi’s Rigoletto here, where a father’s anger leads to the death of his beloved daughter, but there are strong differences. Where Rigoletto is a physically ugly man with a hunchback, Lucrezia Borgia is a beautiful woman, now in her early forties. …

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Don Pasquale, Metropolitan Opera live cinema relay, November 2010

There was electricity aplenty, and that marvellous Act 3 duet between Kwiecien and Del Carlo was carried off with wonderful speed and sparkle.

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Don Pasquale, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, September 2010

It’s wonderful fun, and this Jonathan Miller production is a delight …

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La Fille du Régiment, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, May 2010

Then to top it all there was the beautiful musical direction of Bruno Campanella. His conducting had a rhythmic energy that received a spontaneous round of applause immediately after the overture

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The Elixir of Love, English National Opera, ENO at the London Coliseum, February 2010

… Sarah Tynan singing beautifully as a charmingly shrewd Adina …

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Lucia di Lammermoor, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2010

Altogether, David Alden has created a particularly malicious take on the story, and it works.

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Linda di Chamounix, Royal Opera, September 2009

This was a concert performance, brilliantly conducted by Mark Elder, and the cast, headed by Elise Gutierrez as Linda, and Stephen Costello as gloriously voiced Carlo, was excellent.

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Roberto Devereux, Holland Park Opera, June 2009

For opening night on June 2, Joan Sutherland was in the audience and when people began to recognise her shortly before the start of the second half, there was a warming round of applause.

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Lucia di Lammermoor, live cinema screening, Metropolitan Opera, New York, Feb 2009

Her domineering brother Enrico was brilliantly portrayed by Mariusz Kwiecien, showing a nastiness that made one wish him dead.

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