L'assedio di Calais

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L'assedio di Calais (The siege of Calais) is an 1836 melodramma lirico, or opera, in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti, his 49th opera. Salvatore Cammarano wrote the Italian libretto, which has been described as "...a remarkable libretto, the closest Cammarano ever got to real poetry, particularly in his description of the embattled city and the heartfelt pride of its citizens". [1] It was based on Luigi Marchionni's play L'assedio di Calais (also called Edoardo III), which had been presented in Naples around 1825, and secondarily on Luigi Henry's ballet L'assedio di Calais, which had been performed in Naples in 1828 and revived in 1835. [2]

Opera artform combining sung text and musical score in a theatrical setting

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.

Gaetano Donizetti 19th-century Italian opera composer

Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti was an Italian composer. Along with Gioachino Rossini and Vincenzo Bellini, Donizetti was a leading composer of the bel canto opera style during the first half of the nineteenth century. Donizetti's close association with the bel canto style was undoubtedly an influence on other composers such as Giuseppe Verdi.

Italian language Romance language

Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to Vulgar Latin of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. In spite of not existing any Italian community in their respective national territories and of not being spoken at any level, Italian is included de jure, but not de facto, between the recognized minority languages of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Romania. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both standardized Italian and other regional languages.

Contents

Both of these were probably derived from the French play Eustache de St Pierre, ou Le siège de Calais by Hubert (pen name of Philippe-Jacques Laroche), which had been given in Paris in 1822 and was in turn taken from the 1765 play Le siège de Calais by Pierre-Laurent Buirette de Belloy. [3] The historical basis was Edward III's siege of Calais in 1346, toward the beginning of the Hundred Years' War.

Pierre-Laurent Buirette de Belloy French actor and dramatist

Pierre-Laurent Buirette de Belloy or Dormont De Belloy was a French dramatist and actor.

Edward III of England 14th-century King of England and Duke of Aquitaine

Edward III was King of England and Lord of Ireland from January 1327 until his death; he is noted for his military success and for restoring royal authority after the disastrous and unorthodox reign of his father, Edward II. Edward III transformed the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe. His long reign of 50 years was the second longest in medieval England and saw vital developments in legislation and government, in particular the evolution of the English parliament, as well as the ravages of the Black Death.

Hundred Years War Series of conflicts and wars between England and France during the 14th and 15th-century

The Hundred Years' War was a series of conflicts waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Plantagenet, rulers of the Kingdom of England, against the French House of Valois, over the right to rule the Kingdom of France. Each side drew many allies into the war. It was one of the most notable conflicts of the Middle Ages, in which five generations of kings from two rival dynasties fought for the throne of the largest kingdom in Western Europe. The war marked both the height of chivalry and its subsequent decline, and the development of strong national identities in both countries.

The opera was premiered on 19 November 1836 at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. It was dedicated to the Queen Mother, Maria Isabella. It was the thirteenth of the composer's operas to be given its premiere in that house and it immediately followed the previous year's successful Lucia di Lammermoor there. L'assedio received sixteen performances that season, and, since the opera "met the requirements for a royal occasion, with its happy ending, and had an additional bonus in its glorification of the part played by the English queen, Donizetti duly received the King's congratulations". [4]

María Isabella of Spain Spanish infanta, Queen of the Two Sicilies

Maria Isabella of Spain was an infanta of Spain and Queen consort of the Two Sicilies.

<i>Lucia di Lammermoor</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Lucia di Lammermoor is a dramma tragico in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Salvadore Cammarano wrote the Italian-language libretto loosely based upon Sir Walter Scott's historical novel The Bride of Lammermoor.

By 1840 it had disappeared from the world's stages and it did not re-appear until 1990 at the Donizetti Festival in Bergamo. [5]

Composition history

Interest in composing for the Paris Opera

Following Donizetti's visit to Paris in March 1835 (for his Marino Faliero at the Théâtre-Italien), it is clear that he wished to return to that city and to write an opera for presentation at the Paris Opéra, "the most prestigious theatre in the world". [6]

Marino Faliero Doge of Venice

Marino Faliero was the 55th Doge of Venice, appointed on 11 September 1354.

Also, given that there was an established tradition of works which demonstrated French solidity and resistance in the face of overwhelming odds, all of the plays and the ballet noted above as being used as libretto sources (and which were incorporated into or consulted by Cammarano for the preparation of the libretto) reinforced that tradition in Donizetti's mind. [7] Therefore, as the preparations for this opera evolved over the unusually long period of five months, it has been noted that everything stresses the importance to the composer of his long-term plan [7] for achieving his ultimate goal: having an opera accepted and produced by the Paris Opéra. [8] Thus, L'assedio became Donizetti's first experiment in the style of French grand opera.

Grand opera opera genre

Grand opera is a genre of 19th-century opera generally in four or five acts, characterized by large-scale casts and orchestras, and lavish and spectacular design and stage effects, normally with plots based on or around dramatic historic events. The term is particularly applied to certain productions of the Paris Opéra from the late 1820s to around 1850; 'grand opéra' has sometimes been used to denote the Paris Opéra itself.

Conventions of grand opera

As part of that tradition, L'assedio included a ballet divertissement, a key ingredient of French opera of the period. The idea for this may have arisen in Donizetti's mind from a revival of Luigi Henry's ballet at the San Carlo in 1835, right at the time that Lucia di Lammermoor was given its premiere, [9] but including this dance form was unusual in Italy, where a ballet was normally performed only as a separate work alongside an opera on a double bill.

In line with another French tradition was the composer's rejection of the Italian concept of the prime role of the "prima donna": firstly his having "no particular feeling of obligation to give the heroine an entrance aria" [10] and, secondly, accepting that her role was of significance at all, should be noted: after all, the opera's plot "makes female roles secondary in importance". [10]

Another of the French traditions, as developed from the dominant force in French dramatic literature and personified by Eugene Scribe's concept of the "well-made play" (which may be seen in many of the opera libretti he wrote), concerns the notion of a "coup de theatre" whereby some extraordinary action occurs to turn the evolution of the story totally on its head. This is certainly the case with L'assedio. [10]

As it turned out, Donizetti had to wait four more years for one of his operas to be staged in Paris. [11]

Composing for particular singers

But, in direct contradiction to the French tradition, Donizetti found himself having to employ the "old-fashioned Italian convention of the musico", the female singer trouser role which musicologist William Ashbrook states was defined by the composer to mean "a male-hero role intended to be sung by a female contralto". [12] When contacts with a favourite tenor with local audiences in Naples, Giovanni Basadonna, were fruitless and when the composer did not consider any of three available primo tenors good enough for the part [9] ("almost useless", he calls them), [7] he created a trouser role in the Rossinian tradition of Tancredi (from the opera Tancredi ) or Arsace (in Semiramide ). Therefore, the leading male role of Aurelio in L'assedio, while written for a contralto, is most often performed by a mezzo-soprano.

Performance history

Portrait of Luigi Lablache, who sang Edward III Luigi Lablache.jpg
Portrait of Luigi Lablache, who sang Edward III

Premiere and first revival

The opera was enthusiastically received at its official opening on 22 November, [13] the run of performances were poorly attended due to a cholera epidemic affecting the city, as well as many parts of Northern and Southern Italy.

Though Donizetti called it "my most carefully worked out score", he wrote that "the third act is the least successful....Who knows, I might retouch it?" [13] In another letter to "Dolci di Bergamo" on the same day he wrote: "The third act...seems to me to produce less effect because the dances slow down the action, and perhaps I will cut them to make the opera more effective..." [14]

Generally regarded as the weakest, act 3 contains four "engagingly noisy" dances during a scene celebrating the Queen's arrival. [15] Two of these were by Antonio Vaccari, and, according to Charles Osborne, the two by Donizetti are "instantly forgettable". [16]

By the end of its initial run in 1836, there had been 15 performances, all of which "invariably included act 3". [2] But it appears that, for the July 1837 performances, changes had been made because the Naples Superintendent of Theatres complained of unauthorized alterations. [2] Donizetti had tried to strengthen act 3 by removing the ballet and the choral finale and adding a more traditional aria-finale rondo for Eleonora instead: Questo pianto che sul ciglio, E l'eccesso del contento / "These tears on my lashes, Are tears of overwhelming joy". (This rondo is included in the Opera Rara recording.) But in spite of this change, Donizetti was unsatisfied with the result, but it appears that he made no other revisions before leaving Naples.

The revival on 6 July included only acts 1 and 2. A performance on 8 July 1837 replaced act 3 with another composer's ballet. [17] After three more performances in 1838 and none in 1839, a final performance on 4 February 1840 is thought to have included only the first two acts. [2] After a total of thirty-eight performances in Naples, [18] L'assedio "dropped out of sight". [4] It was only one of a few of Donizetti's "mature operas which appear never to have been performed elsewhere after their first runs". [19]

Donizetti aims for Paris

In an attempt to have the work staged at the Paris Opéra, Donizetti wrote a letter on 21 May 1837 [20] to that company's new star tenor Gilbert Duprez who had recently returned to Paris after eight years in Italy and who had starred in Lucia di Lammermoor two years earlier. Donizetti wrote that he had written the opera "in accordance with French taste", [20] his offer was ignored and L'assedio was not performed in Paris. [21]

Modern revivals

The opera was recorded in London by Opera Rara in 1988 in its three-act version. The first modern stage revival was presented by the Donizetti Festival at the Teatro Donizetti in Bergamo in September 1990. At the Wexford Festival Opera in Ireland in October 1991 the three-act version was also given. [22] L'assedio was given its London stage premiere by the Guildhall School of Music and Drama on 3 March 1993 [18] and the first performance in Scotland was given in Glasgow by RSAMD (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) at the New Athenaeum Theatre on 27 June 1998. [23]

The English Touring Opera [24] gave a series of performances across England and into Scotland between March and May 2013, which would appear to be the opera's UK professional premiere. [25] [26]

ETO presented the opera in a two-act version by incorporating some of act 3 into acts 1 and 2, [27] for which there is 19th-century precedent. The production's director, James Conway explained:

Some of Cammarano's text was censored, and neutralised. The queen is a triffling role, and Edoardo's conversion is not credible. Much of the music is not the same unwavering standard of the first two acts. In Donizetti's lifetime the opera was often given without a third act, and there is evidence that a revised version, without ballet music and without the English queen, was performed at Naples to the librettist's chagrin. [28]

The opera was given its first US professional staging at the Glimmerglass Festival in 2017 [29] and the complete three act version was seen in a production by Odyssey Opera, Boston, the same year. [30]

Roles

Paul Barroilhet, who sang the role of Eustachio Paul Barroilhet 1847.jpg
Paul Barroilhet, who sang the role of Eustachio
RoleVoice typePremiere Cast, 19 November 1836
(Conductor: - )
Eustachio de Saint-Pierre, Mayor of Calais baritone Paul Barroilhet
Aurelio, his son mezzo-soprano,
pants role
Almareinda Manzocchi
Eleonora, Aurelio's wifesoprano Caterina Barilli-Patti,
mother of Adelina Patti
Giovanni d'Aire, burgher tenor Ferdinando Cimino
Giacomo de Wisants, burghertenorFreni
Pietro de Wisants, burgherbaritone Giovanni Revalden
Armando, burgher bass Giuseppe Benedetti
Eduardo III, King of Englandbaritone Luigi Lablache
Isabella, Queen of England [31] soprano
Edmundo, English generaltenor Nicola Tucci
An English spy / Un Incognitobass Pietro Gianni

Synopsis

(Source: the action described is taken from the events portrayed in the Opera Rara recording from 1988. Variations are noted in indented brackets.)

Time: 1347
Place: Calais, France.

Act 1

Scene 1: Outside the walls of Calais at night

While the English soldiers besieging the city are asleep, Aurelio climbs down from the city walls, steals some loaves of bread, and attempts to climb back up to the top. But when one of the soldiers is disturbed by the sounds he is making, all come awake and immediately take chase. In an opening chorus, they describe how he escapes by leaping into the sea and swimming away.

[In one revised libretto where act 3 is removed (as noted below) and a few lines of linking recitative added, the King appears outside the city walls and sings his aria L'avvenir per me fia tutto, Un trionfo, una vittoria / "Every obstacle to my glory, Is overcome at last!".

For its 2013 performances of the work, English Touring Opera performed this version. Its on-line synopsis describes the action as follows:

Edoardo, leader of the besieging army, is impatient for victory over the city’s defenders. He knows that he must take the city to win the campaign and enhance his own reputation. He exhorts his lieutenant Edmondo to demand hostages in exchange for sparing the city’s complete destruction. Edmondo says that this strategy is in motion. [27] ]

Scene 2: Inside the Municipal Palace of Calais

Aurelio's father, Eustachio, the Mayor of Calais, is unhappy. He sadly comments on the condition of the people inside the walls and their lamentations: "Help, food, hope....everything / Is lost to us except love of our country". Further, he states that he has not seen his son. Eleonora, Aurelio's wife, enters exclaiming that all is lost: his son, her husband has been seen trying to escape from the English in a hail of arrows and she fears that he has not survived. Eustachio is in despair (Cantabile: Le fibre, oh Dio! m'investe / Orrida man di gelo! / "A dreadful icy hand, oh God, assails my flesh") and Eleonora joins in a duet in which both express their fears.

However, Giovanni rushes in with the news that all is well: Aurelio has been saved. Both father and wife express their joy (Cabaletta: Eustachio, then Eleonora, then both: Un instante i mali obblio / Dell' orrenda e lunga guerra!... / "In one moment I forgot the troubles / Of the long, horrendous war!"). Pietro enters to confirm that Aurelio is safe but is changing his clothes. His wife demands that he be brought to her and, when Aurelio arrives he brings with him their young son, Filippo. There is a great reunion of all four: (Aurelio's Aria di sortita: cantabile: Al mio cor oggetti amati / Vi congiunga un solo amplesso... / "Let me hold to my heart / All my dearest in one embrace"). Overcoming tears, Aurelio is questioned as to the chances of survival. He turns to the problems at hand, fiercely proclaiming that there is nothing that can be done to survive the English attack except by fighting to the end: (Cabaletta: Aureilo, then ensemble: Giovanni, Eleanora, Eustachio; Aurelio repeats, then all: Giammai del forte l'ardir non langue / "The audacity of the strong never languishes").

The group bemoans its fate, knowing that Edward III plans on total control of the city, but no sooner than Giovanni leaves to take care of the damage to the city walls, than he rushes back in to announce that the city's population has rebelled. The people are heard calling for Eustachio's death, and the Stranger enters pointing him out to the crowd. Boldly, Eustachio holds his ground and defiantly bears his chest to them while all look on: (Eustachio; Che s'indugia? In questo petto / "What stops you"; then ensemble: three groups: Aurelio/Eleonora/Giovanni/Armando/Giocomo/Pietro together: Gente ingrata, non è questi, il tuo padre il tuo sostegno? / "Ingrates, has not this man been Father and provider to you?"), the Stranger: (Non previsto e fero inciampo / "An unforeseen and iron obstacle thwarts my plan..."), and the People: (A quel sensi, a quell'aspetto, Più lo sdegno non m'invade / "Those sentiments, that bearing...I am moved by anger no longer..."). Persistent, the Stranger attempts to persuade the crowd to act, but Eustachio sees through him and demands proof of his identity proclaiming that he is an Englishman. With no Frenchman coming forward to vouch for him, the Stranger tears into Eustachio, but is restrained. Eustachio proclaims that all will go out to fight the English and the crowd asks for forgiveness. In a massive choral finale, all are resigned to their separate fates as the soldiers move out, the women move inside, and the Stranger is dragged off.

Act 2

Scene 1: Aurelio and Eleonora's quarters

While Aurelio and his son sleep, Eleanore watches over them. Aware of the impending siege, she prays for some brief comfort: (Breve riposo a lui concde il sonno / "May sleep grant a short rest"). Waking suddenly from a bad dream, Aurelio is startled and he describes it, telling that his son was captured and killed by English soldiers before his eyes. (Duet: first Aurelio: Io l'udia chiarmarmi a nome / "In his sobs and terror...", then Eleonora: Rio presagio!...amato figlio / "An evil omen!...my beloved son"; then together). A bell rings, appearing to summoning Aurelio to the fight, but at that moment (In a tempo di mezzo) Giovanni arrives to announce that the English king wishes to discuss terms, and he encourages Aurelio to gather with the other leaders. (Cabaletta: Aurelio and Eleonora: La speme a dolci palpito, mi ridestò nel seno... / "Hope round sweet expectation, In my breast"). Aurelio rushes out.

Scene 2: An official public gathering place inside the city

The people cry out in despair demanding "Pray! save what is let of this oppressed city" [32] The King's herald, Edmondo, states that there will be a truce, but on the condition that six nobles from Calais go outside the walls where they will be sacrificed.

All are horrified and express their anger, with Eustachio declaring that all will remain Frenchmen. Aurelio angrily turns on Edmondo: (Aria: Esci, e sappi chi t'invta / "Go, and tell him who sends you, Of our hatred of his terms"), but Eustachio demands that protests stop and he informs the Herald that, before sunset, "the six victims will be brought to the English king" [32] and, over all the protests, he prevails by declaring that he will be first. He signs his name to a paper. Although Aurelio attempts to do likewise, his father prevents him as others step forward and add their names to the list, but finally Aurelio is able to add his name. The group of six is formed: as the sun begins to set, they are ready to go, and they say their farewells: (Sextet, then all: O sccra polva, o suol natio / "Oh treasured soil, our homeland") with the townspeople lamenting the fate of their comrades. [33]

[The following is taken from act 3 in the ETO revised performance version, Aurelio attempts to hold back his tears as he says goodbye to his young son and to Eleonora, but he finally breaks down with his son in his arms: (Aurelio: Raddopia i baci tuoi, Parte di me piu cara... / "Dearest part of me, Kiss me again and again..."); then Eleonora, Eustachio, and the hostages all join together in the finale.]

Act 3

[In the ETO revised version, almost all of what follows below is removed, except that Aurelio's Raddopia i baci tuoi and the lament by all (except the queen, who has been removed) is moved to become the ending of the opera.]

Scene 1: The English camp outside the gates

King Edward demands that when his queen arrives, she be greeted with a salute, but he is uncertain as to the whereabouts of his herald and whether the French have agreed to his plan. When Edmondo arrives to tell him that the French will be sending the six men, Edward is delighted, for he sees himself as finally ruling England, Scotland and France: (Aria: L'avvenir per me fia tutto, Un trionfo, una vittoria / "Every obstacle to my glory, Is overcome at last!").

[See act 1 for how Edward's aria was relocated there in a revised version] [34]

Queen Isabella arrives, but immediately expresses astonishment at not meeting her husband inside the walls of Calais. However, the king praises her accomplishments in her involvement with the pacification of Scotland. Before the assembled group, dancers perform in celebration of Queen Isabella's victory:

"Dances of the Scottish prisoners" (composed by Donizetti)
"Passo d'ansiemi" (composed by Antonio Vaccaro) [35]
[A revised version shortens the act into one scene by removing the ballets as well as the role of the queen] [34]

Edmondo advises the king that the six hostages have arrived. He orders that they be taken to his tent and, in a quiet aside to his men, that a scaffold be prepared.

Scene 2: Inside King Edward's tent

[The revision noted above removes the change of scene which remains as in scene 1, outside the city walls] [34]

The condemned men approach, led by Eustachio who hands over the keys of Calais to the king; he declares that they serve as an example to the others, but Eustachio stands firm declaring that a glorious death is waiting. Just then, there is noise from outside and Eleonora is heard addressing the townspeople. As Edoardo attempts to have his men remove the relatives of the victims who have gathered outside, Queen Isabella hurries in, having heard the orders. Along with the victims and their families, she pleads with her husband, but, with the king's stolid rejections, Eustachio steps forward to declare that the six must now accept their fate and say their farewells to their families. Aurelio attempts to hold back his tears as he says goodbye to his young son and to Eleonora, but he finally breaks down with his son in his arms: (Aurelio: Raddopia i baci tuoi, Parte di me piu cara... / "Dearest part of me, Kiss me again and again..."; then Eleonora, Eustachio, and the hostages; then the queen - all join together). Even the king begins to be moved to pity, and as the condemned turn to accept their fate, Isabella demands that they stop. She turns to Edward: (Di re figlia, vincitrice, Io mi postro / "As a King's daughter, as a victor, I prostrate myself before you..."); the English officers join in her pleading; and finally Edoardo is convinced to pardon the six men. All is joyful: a great chorus of all assembled sing their praises of the king's actions, declaring that his memory will live forever: Fin che i secoli vivranno, Le tue laudi un eco avranno / "As long as the centuries go on, Your praises will echo through them").

[In a later version, Donizetti added a rondo finale for Eleonora: S'il mio cor soavi effetti / "Let these tears express to you". [34]

Music

Conventions of ottocento music drama

As a general summary of the quality of the music of this opera, William Ashbrook notes in his 1989 analysis:

Although not without flaws, L'assedio di Calais, contains some of the most attractive and genuinely moving music that Donizetti ever composed. It shows him tackling a new kind of subject matter - sacrificial patriotism - and treating it, particularly in the finale to Act 2, with dramatic immediacy that was his strongest suit as a man of the theatre.....In many important ways, such as the eloquent portrait of Eustachio and the cumulative effect of many of the fine ensemble passages, L'assedio is very much a forward-looking opera for 1836. [36]

Known as the solita forma, the conventions of bel canto scene layout and double-aria structure are clearly in evidence throughout the work. In this regard, Osborne praises the mastery exhibited in Donizetti and Cammarano's collaborations, but singles out the act 1 "sorrowful duet, Le fibre, oh Dio, m'investe!, for Eustachio and Eleonora, with its joyous cabaletta (Un instante i mali obblio")...as "a fine example of the confidently established form" [15] of that time.

However, Ashbrook notes that the opening of the opera is very unlike any of his other works, since he has to parallel the mimed stage action - as Aurelio climbs down from the walls to steal bread from the English. Here the music parallels that action and "moves away from creating a generalised impression of mood.....in order to seek dramatic novelty and effectiveness" [37]

Also, as was seen in much of the music for the previous year's Maria Stuarda , there was a growing tendency for greater ensemble work, a single aria becoming a duet, then an ensemble. In act 1, scene 2 that is clearly seen as the music moves from Eustachio (Che s'indugia? In questo petto / "What stops you") to the group with Aurelio and his men (Plebe ingrata) then to the Stranger (Non previsto e ferro inciampo), and finally to the assembled people (A quel sensi).

Revisions to act 3 after 1836

As the composer recognized very early on, the weaknesses of act 3 prompted him to feel that he would return to modify or re-write this act. However, while it does not seem that he did very much, there were changes made in at least one revised libretto, and some of these were quite possibly staged. (see "Reactions to the premiere" above).

Of the changes made, it is known that:

However, what is not known is exactly who was responsible for these changes to the libretto although, after the initial performances, it was common practice "once the first performance was safely out of the way". But they were not done by Cammarano, who scribbled some disparaging comments in the margin of at least one revised libretto. These kinds of changes, along with frequent performances of separate acts at Naples at that time, add to the mystery. [2]

Under its translated title The Siege of Calais, this rarity is being produced by two U.S. companies within months of each other in 2017. The Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, NY will perform it several times during the summer, while Boston's Odyssey Opera will give two performances in late October as part of a season of five works devoted to the Hundred Years War, four of them centered on Joan of Arc.

Recordings

YearCast:
Eustachio,
Aurelio,
Eleonora,
Giovanni d'Aire,
Stranger/Un Incognito
King Edward III
Queen Isabella
Conductor,
Opera House and Orchestra
Label [39]
1988 Christian du Plessis,
Della Jones,
Nuccia Focile,
Rico Serbo,
Norman Bailey,
Russell Smythe
Eiddwen Harrhy
David Parry,
Philharmonia Orchestra and Geoffrey Mitchell Choir
CD: Opera Rara,
Cat: ORC9
1990Paolo Coni,
Luciana D' Intino,
Nuccia Focile,
Romano Emili,
Maurizio Antonelli,
Michele Pertusi,
Barbara Frittoli
Roberto Abbado,
Orchestra and Chorus of RAI Milano,
(Recording of a performance in the Civico Teatro
Gaetano Donizetti, Bergamo, 20 September)
DVD: House of Opera,
Cat: DVDCC 177

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Pia de' Tolomei is a tragedia lirica in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Salvadore Cammarano wrote the Italian libretto after Bartolomeo Sestini's verse novella Pia de' Tolomei, which was based on Canto V, vv. 130-136 from Dante's narrative poem The Divine Comedy part 2: Purgatorio. It premiered on 18 February 1837 at the Teatro Apollo in Venice.

<i>Lesule di Roma</i> opera

L'esule di Roma, ossia Il proscritto is a melodramma eroico, or heroic opera, in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Domenico Gilardoni wrote the Italian libretto after Luigi Marchionni's Il proscritto romano, in its turn based on Louis-Charles Caigniez and Debotière's Androclès ou Le lion reconnaissant. It premiered on 1 January 1828 at the Teatro San Carlo, Naples.

<i>Maria de Rudenz</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Maria de Rudenz is a dramma tragico, or tragic opera, in three parts by Gaetano Donizetti. The Italian libretto was written by Salvadore Cammarano, based on "a piece of Gothic horror", La nonne sanglante by Auguste Anicet-Bourgeois and Julien de Mallian, and The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis. It premiered at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, on 30 January 1838.

<i>Gabriella di Vergy</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Gabriella di Vergy is an opera seria in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti written in 1826 and revised in 1838, from a libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola, which was based on the tragedy Gabrielle de Vergy (1777) by Dormont De Belloy. Prior to that, the play was itself inspired by two French medieval legends, Le châtelain de Coucy et la dame de Fayel and Le Roman de la chastelaine de Vergy.

<i>Gianni di Calais</i> opera

Gianni di Calais is a melodramma semiserio, a "semi-serious" opera in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti (1828), from a libretto by Domenico Gilardoni, based on Jean de Paris by Louis-Charles Caigniez.

<i>Gianni di Parigi</i> opera comica in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti

Gianni di Parigi is an 1839 melodramma comico in two acts with music by Gaetano Donizetti to a libretto by Felice Romani, which had previously been set by Francesco Morlacchi in 1818 and by Giovanni Antonio Speranza in 1836.

<i>Francesca di Foix</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Francesca di Foix is a melodramma giocoso in one act by Gaetano Donizetti with a libretto by Domenico Gilardoni based on one by Jean-Nicolas Bouilly and Emmanuel Mercier-Dupaty for Henri Montan Berton's 3-act opéra-comique Françoise de Foix, inspired by the life of Françoise de Foix.

<i>Alfredo il grande</i> opera

Alfredo il grande is a melodramma serio or serious opera in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Andrea Leone Tottola wrote the Italian libretto, which may have been derived from Johann Simon Mayr's 1818 opera of the same name. The opera tells the story of the Anglo-Saxon king Alfred the Great.

<i>Les martyrs</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Les martyrs is a four-act grand opera by Gaetano Donizetti set to a French libretto by Eugène Scribe. The libretto was based on one written by Salvadore Cammarano for an original Italian version known as Poliuto, which was not performed until after the composer's death. Pierre Corneille's play Polyeucte written in 1641–42, the story of which reflected the life of the early Christian martyr Saint Polyeuctus, is the original source for both versions.

<i>Lange de Nisida</i> Opera in four acts by Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti

L'ange de Nisida is an opera semiseria in four acts by Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti, from a libretto by Alphonse Royer and Gustave Vaëz.

<i>Il furioso allisola di San Domingo</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Il furioso all'isola di San Domingo(The Madman on the Island of San Domingo) is a "romantic melodramma" in two acts by the composer Gaetano Donizetti. Jacopo Ferretti, who since 1821 had written five libretti for Donizetti and two for Rossini, had proposed the unusual subject and he was contracted to write the Italian libretto based on a five-act play of the same title by an unknown author in 1820, which "had been given in the same theatre [...] and which Donizetti had immediately loved". However, as has been noted by Charles Osborne, the "ultimate derivation of both play and libretto is an episode in part 1 of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes's published in 1605" which is the story of Cardenio and Lucinda.

<i>La romanziera e luomo nero</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

La romanziera e l'uomo nero is an 1831 one-act farsa with music by Gaetano Donizetti and an Italian libretto by Domenico Gilardoni, possibly based on the 1819 play La donna dei romanzi by Augusto Bon. Other suggested sources include L'homme noir (1820) by Eugene Scribe and Jean-Henri Dupin and Le coiffeur et le perruquier (1824) by Scribe, Édouard-Joseph-Ennemond Mazères and Charles Nombret Saint-Laurent.

References

Notes

  1. Black 1984, p. 35
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Black 1988, pp. 30–41
  3. Ashbrook 1982 p. 563; Ashbrook 1992 p. 230; Ashbrook & Hibberd 2001, p. 238.
  4. 1 2 Black 1982, p. 37
  5. http://www.bergamomusicafestival.it/
  6. Ashbrook 1989, pp. 10–11
  7. 1 2 3 Ashbrook 1989, pp. 12–13
  8. Ashbrook 1992 p. 230
  9. 1 2 Ashbrook and Hibberd 2001, p. 238
  10. 1 2 3 Ashbrook 1982, pp. 252–253
  11. Donizetti in Paris: In spite of all his efforts with trying to get L'assedio put on in Paris, the first opera which was performed there was Les martyrs, which premiered on 10 April 1840 at the Opéra's Salle Le Peletier. Les martyrs (See Osborne 1994 p. 268) was a reworking in French in "grand opera" style of his as then-unperformed Italian opera Poliuto .
  12. Ashbrook 1989 "The Music of L'assedio di Calais": Note in the booklet for the Opera Rara recording, pp. 21–29
  13. 1 2 Letter of 22 November 1836 to Riccordi, in Ashbrook 1989, p. 28
  14. Donizetti, letter to "Dolci di Bergamo", 22 November 1836, in Ashbrook 1989, p. 15
  15. 1 2 Osborne 1994, p. 255.
  16. Osborne 1994, pp. 255–256.
  17. Ashbrook 1989, p. 17
  18. 1 2 Osborne 1994, p. 25
  19. Weinstock 1963, p. 123
  20. 1 2 Ashbrook 1989, in footnotes p. 28, 29
  21. Weinstock 1963, p. 352
  22. Wexford Festival programme
  23. Opera Scotland record of performance on operascotland.org Retrieved 29 January 2013
  24. English Touring Opera's schedule of performances on its website at englishtouringopera.org.uk Retrieved 19 January 2013
  25. Rupert Christiansen,"The Siege of Calais, English Touring Opera, review", The Telegraph (London), 11 Mar 2013
  26. William Hartston, "Opera review: The Siege of Calais, English Touring Opera in Express (London), 20 March 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2013
  27. 1 2 The Siege of Calais synopsis on englishtouringopera.org.uk
  28. James Conway (March 2013), "Director's Note" in the programme published by ETO.
  29. Moomjy, Gregory. "Donizetti rarity given American première at Glimmerglass". bachtrack.com. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  30. Wells, Kevin. "An American First: Odyssey Opera presents L'assedio di Calais". bachtrack.com. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  31. The real Isabella was Edward III's mother; his wife was Philippa of Hainault
  32. 1 2 Libretto in booklet accompanying the Opera Rare recording, pp. 65–68
  33. Ashbrook 1989, p. 23: He notes the innovative nature of the finale, which "unleashes a Verdian level of raw energy and [which] stands as a fine achievement in a concluding section of an ensemble, where Donizetti on more than one occasion had relied on the unwinding of a series of conventional formulae"
  34. 1 2 3 4 5 Ashbrook 1989, p. 26
  35. Ashbrook 1989, p. 26. He notes that Donizetti wrote only two of the four dances. Those included here appear in the Opera Rara recording; the other two do not.
  36. Ashbrook 1989, p. 27
  37. Ashbrook 1989, p. 21
  38. Osborne 1994, p. 256.
  39. Recordings on operadis-opera-discography.org.uk

Cited sources

Other sources