Maria Padilla

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Maria Padilla is a melodramma , or opera, in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Gaetano Rossi and the composer wrote the Italian libretto after François Ancelot's play. It premiered on 26 December 1841 at La Scala, Milan. The plot is loosely based on the historical figure María de Padilla, the mistress of Pedro the Cruel, King of Castile.

Melodramma is a 17th-century Italian term for a text to be set as an opera, or the opera itself. In the 19th-century, it was used in a much narrower sense by English writers to discuss developments in the early Italian libretto, e.g., Rigoletto and Un ballo in maschera. Characteristic are the influence of French bourgeois drama, female instead of male protagonists, and the practice of opening the action with a chorus.

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.

Contents

Performance history

The American premiere took place in 1990 when the young Renée Fleming made her major debut with Opera Omaha. [1] Among other performances, the opera was presented by the Buxton Festival in 2003 [2] and by the Minnesota Opera in 2005. [3]

Renée Fleming American opera soprano

Renée Lynn Fleming is an American opera singer and soprano. Fleming has a full lyric soprano voice. She has performed coloratura, lyric, and lighter spinto soprano operatic roles in Italian, German, French, Czech, and Russian, aside from her native English. She has also sung chansons, jazz and indie rock. She speaks fluent German and French, along with limited Italian. Her signature roles include Countess Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Desdemona in Verdi's Otello, Violetta in Verdi's La traviata, the title role in Dvořák's Rusalka, the title role in Massenet's Manon, the title role in Massenet's Thaïs, the title role in Richard Strauss's Arabella, the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier, and the Countess in Capriccio.

Opera Omaha is a major regional opera company in Omaha, Nebraska. Begun in 1958, the professional company is widely known for the International Fall Festival events it held in the 1980s and 1990s, which garnered international attention and served as the U.S. and world premieres for a number of notable works. One of these performances, the 1990 U.S. premiere of the 1841 work Maria Padilla, was among the primary debuts for noted soprano Renee Fleming. "I’ve been calling all my singer friends and saying, 'You’ve got to sing for this company.'" Fleming said at the time. It has "a lot of vision." In 2007, the Toronto Star said "Opera Omaha has grown into one of the continent's most enterprising regional opera companies."

Buxton Festival

The Buxton Festival is an annual summer festival of opera, music, and a literary series, held in Buxton, Derbyshire, in England since its beginnings in July 1979.

Roles

RoleVoice typePremiere Cast, 26 December 1841
(Conductor: Eugenio Cavallini)
Donna Maria Padilla, Ruiz' daughter [4] soprano Sophie Löwe
Donna Ines Padilla, Ruiz' daughtersoprano Luigia Abbadia
Don Pedro, prince of Castile baritone Giorgio Ronconi
Don Ruiz di Padilla tenor Domenico Donzelli
Don Ramiro, duke of Albequerque bass Gaetano Rossi
Francisca mezzo-soprano Teresa Ruggeri
Don Luigi, count of Aguillartenor Ranieri Pochini
Don Alfonso di Pardobass Agostino Berini
Bianca di Franciasilent
Gentlemen, Castilian and French dignitaries, hunters, vassals of Padilla, guards, Castilian and French pages

Synopsis

Sophie Lowe, who created the role of Maria Padilla Sophie Lowe.jpg
Sophie Löwe, who created the role of Maria Padilla
Place: Castile
Time: 14th century

Maria tells her sister Ines that she hopes to marry Don Pedro, the ruler of Castile. When he sneaks into her room disguised as Mendez, Maria tells him that she knows his true identity and demands marriage to save her honour. Don Pedro acquiesces, although the marriage must be kept secret. After their elopement, a faction of the Don Pedro's court wants him marry Bianca, a Bourbon princess, in order to avoid a civil war. He appears to be negotiating this, despite his secret marriage to Maria.

House of Bourbon European royal house of French origin

The House of Bourbon is a European royal house of French origin, a branch of the Capetian dynasty. Bourbon kings first ruled France and Navarre in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the Spanish Bourbon dynasty held thrones in Spain, Naples, Sicily, and Parma. Spain and Luxembourg currently have monarchs of the House of Bourbon.

Meanwhile, Maria's father, Don Ruiz di Padilla, appears at the court. Believing that she is merely Don Pedro's mistress, he challenges the prince to a duel, but is led away in disgrace. Maria visits her father and tries to explain that she is the secret wife of Don Pedro, but her father refuses to listen.

Much to Maria's horror, Bianca arrives at the court, and is welcomed by Maria's enemies there as Don Pedro's bride and their queen. Instead, Don Pedro proclaims Maria as his queen and she dies of joy. (In the original ending which was changed by the censors, Maria grabbed the crown from Bianca's head and then committed suicide. [5] )

Recordings

YearCast
(Maria, Ines,
Ruiz, Pedro)
Conductor,
Opera House and Orchestra
Label [6]
1980Lois McDonall,
Della Jones,
Graham Clark,
Christian du Plessis
Alun Francis
London Symphony Orchestra and Geoffrey Mitchell Choir
Audio CD: Opera Rara
Cat: ORC6
1990 Renée Fleming,
Stella Zambalis,
Hans Gregory Ashbaker,
Motti Kaston
John DeMain
Opera/Omaha Orchestra and Chorus
(Recording of a performance in the Auditorium of the Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska, September)
Audio CD: Premiere Opera
Cat: CDNO 8932

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References

Notes

  1. Leo Dagambina, "Opera Omaha Presents the American Premiere of Maria Padilla Starring Renée Fleming" on leoadambiga.wordpress.com. Retrieved 1 November 2013
  2. "Donizett's Maria Padilla". donizettisociety.com. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  3. "Maria Padilla". donizettisociety.com. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  4. Premiere cast and conductor from Casaglia
  5. Ashbrook 1983, p. 572
  6. Source of recording on operadis-opera-discography.org.uk

Sources

William Ashbrook was an American musicologist, writer, journalist, and academic. He was perhaps best noted as a historian, researcher and popularizer of the works of Italian opera composer Gaetano Donizetti.

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