Zoraida di Granata

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Zoraida di Granata (also Zoraide di Granata or Zoraïda di Granata) is a melodramma eroico (opera seria or 'heroic' opera), in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti. The Italian libretto had been partly prepared Bartolomeo Merelli (about whose tardiness the composer complained), based on the French play, Gonzalve de Cordoue ou Grenade Reconquise by Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian (1791), and on a libretto by Luigi Romanelli to an opera by Nicolini called Abenamet e Zoraide.

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

When Donizetti arrived in Rome, carrying a letter of introduction from his teacher and mentor Johann Simon Mayr to poet and librettist Jacopo Ferretti, he secured his help in revising Merelli's text. [1]

Jacopo Ferretti Italian librettist

Jacopo Ferretti was an Italian writer, poet and opera librettist. His name is sometimes written as Giacomo Ferretti.

Although it was Donizetti's first theatrical success "and the opera in which he began to adopt 'Rossinian' techniques", [2] the original 1822 version of this violent love story was never given a complete performance because Amerigo Sbigoli, the tenor originally cast in the role of Abenamet, died shortly before the first night, with no replacement available. Donizetti quickly adapted this role for contralto, though omitting three numbers in the process.

Americo (Amerigo) Sbigoli was an Italian tenor.

The first performance took place at the Teatro Argentina, Rome, on 28 January 1822 and it and its composer received great acclaim in the weekly Notizie del giorno:

Teatro Argentina Theater in Rome, Italy

The Teatro Argentina is an opera house and theatre located in Largo di Torre Argentina, a square in Rome, Italy. One of the oldest theatres in Rome, it was constructed in 1731 and inaugurated on 31 January 1732 with Berenice by Domenico Sarro. It is built over part of the curia section of the Theatre of Pompey. This curia was the location of the assassination of Julius Caesar.

Rome Capital city and comune in Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

"A new and very happy hope is rising for the Italian musical theatre. The young Maestro Gaetano Donizetti...has launched himself strongly in his truly serious opera, Zoraida. Unanimous, sincere, universal was the applause he justly collected from the capacity audience...". [3]

The opera was presented in a revised edition at the same theatre on 7 January 1824, and given a revival in Lisbon in 1825. [3]

Roles

Domenico Donzelli, 1842 Domenico Donzelli Litho.jpg
Domenico Donzelli, 1842
Role Voice type Premiere cast, 28 January 1822
(Conductor: - )
Almuzir, King of Granada tenor Domenico Donzelli
Almanzor, friend of Abenamet bass Gaetano Rambaldi
Zoraida, in love with, and loved by, Abenamet soprano Maria Ester Mombelli
Abenamet, General of the Moorsoriginally tenor
(then substitute contralto)
Amerigo Sbigoli
(Adelaide Mazzanti) [4]
Ines, a Spanish slave and friend of Zoraida mezzo-soprano Gaetana Corini
Aw Zegribass Alberto Torri

Synopsis

Gustave Dore: Zoraida falls in the Captive's arms Zoraida by Gustave Dore.jpg
Gustave Doré: Zoraida falls in the Captive's arms
Time: 1480
Place: Granada, Spain.

The murderous and duplicitous Almuzir wishes to marry Zoraida, the daughter of the late king, who in turn loves Abenamet, the victorious General of the Moors. To save Abenamet from the sentence of death passed on him consequent to the machinations of Almuzir, Zoraida agrees to the marriage. She survives Abenamet’s doubts as to her fidelity and somewhat implausibly is allowed to marry him.

Recordings

1822 version

YearCast
(Almuzir, Zoraida, Abenamet, Almanzor)
Conductor,
Opera House and Orchestra
Label [5]
1998 Bruce Ford,
Majella Cullagh,
Paul Austin Kelly,
Matthew Hargreaves
David Parry,
Orchestra of the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields
Audio CD: Opera Rara
Cat: ORC 17
On CDs 1, 2, and 3 (part).

1824 version

The Opera Rara recording contains an additional six pieces on CDs 3 (part) and 4.

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References

Notes

  1. Allit 1991, pp. 26–27
  2. Ashbrook and Hibberd 2001, p. 226
  3. 1 2 Osborne 1994, p. 146
  4. Ashbrook 1986, p. 20. The first name 'Adelaide' is reported by Richard, Zoraida di Granata, Donizetti , "Opera", 51, 1, January 2000, pp. 119–120.
  5. Recordings of the opera on operadis-opera-discography.org.uk

Cited 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.

Amanda Juliet Holden is a British musician, librettist and translator.

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

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