Caterina Cornaro ossia La Regina di Cipro (Caterina Cornaro or The Queen of Cyprus) is a tragedia lirica , or opera, in a prologue and two acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Giacomo Sacchèro wrote the Italian libretto after Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges' libretto for Halévy's La reine de Chypre (1841). It is based on the life of Caterina Cornaro (1454 - 1510), Queen of Cyprus from 1474 to 1489. It premiered at the Teatro San Carlo, Naples on 12 January 1844.
Following the success of Linda di Chamounix , Caterina Cornaro was commissioned by Bartolomeo Merelli, impresario of the Kaertnerthortheater in Vienna, and was partly composed in 1842, just before Don Pasquale , and completed during the following summer. The Viennese realised that the same subject had been set to music the preceding year by Franz Lachner and the debut was cancelled. Donizetti dedicated himself instead to Maria di Rohan , presented at the Theater am Kärntnertor in June 1843, and searched for a suitable theatre for Caterina. Two months after the triumph of Dom Sébastien in Paris, Caterina was booed at the San Carlo in Naples. The composer, who had been unable to be present at rehearsals or to oversee the orchestration, had clearly predicted the opera's failure, in a January 1844 communication to his brother-in-law:
In the winter of 1844-45, Donizetti devoted himself to a revision which provided a different ending. The new version was presented in Parma in February 1845, with Marianna Barbieri-Nini in the title role. It was the last of Donizetti's operas to have its première during his lifetime.
A contemporary revival took place at the Teatro San Carlo, Naples in 1972, with Leyla Gencer, Renato Bruson and Giacomo Aragall. Gencer sang a concert version the following year at Carnegie Hall, New York. In the same year, Montserrat Caballé sang Caterina in Paris at the Salle Pleyel and followed it with concert performances in London,Barcelona and Nice, some of which have been preserved on record.
Winton Dean has noted how the tenor role in Caterina Cornaro is marginalized compared to the conventions of Italian opera of the day. Dean also commented on the particularly menacing quality of the assassins' chorus in the opera.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast, 12 January 1844|
(Conductor: Antonio Farelli)
|Caterina Cornaro||soprano||Fanny Goldberg|
|Matilde, Caterina's friend||mezzo-soprano||Anna Salvetti|
|Lusignano, King of Cyprus||baritone||Filippo Coletti|
|Mocenigo, ambassador of Venice||bass||Nicola Benevento|
|Andrea Cornaro, Caterina's father||bass||Marco Arati|
|Strozzi, head of the Sgherri||tenor||Anafesto Rossi|
|A knight of the King||tenor||Domenico Ceci|
The wedding of Caterina, daughter of Andrea Cornaro, to a young Frenchman, Gerardo, is postponed when Mocenigo brings word that Lusignano, King of Cyprus, wishes to marry her. After much intrigue, involving Lusignano being slowly poisoned by Mocenigo, Gerardo joins the Knights of the Cross to help Lusignano defend Cyprus against the Venetians. Lusignano is mortally wounded; as he dies he entrusts his people to Caterina's care. Gerardo then returns to Rhodes. (In the revised finale for the Parma production, Lusignano informs Caterina that Gerardo has been killed in battle.)
(Caterina Cornaro, Gerardo, Lusignano,
Opera House and Orchestra
|1972|| Leyla Gencer,|
| Carlo Felice Cillario,|
Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro San Carlo
(Recording of a performance at The Teatro San Carlo, Naples, 28 May)
|Audio CD: Myto|
Cat: MCD 921.53
|1972|| Montserrat Caballé,|
| Carlo Felice Cillario,|
London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
(Recording of a concert performance at The Royal Festival Hall, 10 July)
|Audio CD: Opera d'Oro|
|1973|| Leyla Gencer,|
| Alfredo Silipigni,|
Orchestra and Chorus of the New Jersey Opera
(Recording of a concert performance at Carnegie Hall, New York, 15 April)
|Audio CD: On Stage|
|1973|| Margherita Rinaldi,|
| Elio Boncompagni,|
Orchestra and Chorus of RAI Turin
|Audio CD: Bongiovanni|
Cat: BG 2410/11-2
|1973|| Montserrat Caballé,|
| Gian-Franco Masini,|
Orchestre Lyrique & Chorale Lyrique de l'O.R.T.F.
(Recording of a concert performance, Paris, Salle Pleyel, 25 November)
|Audio CD: Rodophe,|
Cat: RPC 32474-32475;
Cat: PX 505.2
| Gianandrea Gavazzeni,|
"I Pomeriggi Musicali" di Milano and Teatro Donizetti di Bergamo Chorus
(Recording of a performance in the Teatro Donizetti di Bergamo, 21 Sept)
|Audio CD: Agora Musica|
Cat: AG 046.2
|1998|| Julia Migenes,|
| Richard Bonynge,|
British Youth Opera Orchestra and the Vasari Singers
(Recording of a concert performance, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, 28 June)
|Audio CD: Hellenic Centre|
|2013|| Carmen Giannattasio,|
| David Parry,|
BBC Singers and the BBC Symphony Orchestra
(studio recording, BBC Maida Vale studios, London. Recorded 2011. Released 2013)
|Audio CD: Opera Rara|
Cat: ORC 48
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