Gaetano Donizetti
1797-1848
Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848)
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Born in Bergamo (North of Italy)
Studied at Mayr’s school (on full scholarship)
Married to Virginia Vasselli who died of cholera
3 children died in infancy or stillborn
Contracted syphilis and suffered from insanity
Wrote 73 operas
1830 first international success Anna Bolena
1832 breaks contract with Naples
1832 romantic comedy Elisir d’amore (MI)
Early 1835 Paris, then return to Naples for
1835 Lucia di Lammermoor (mad scene) great success
1843 comic masterpiece Don Pasquale
deteriorating health and embarrassing moments (cerebro-spinal
degeneration of syphilitic origin)
In sanatorium in Paris for 17 months then
Return to Bergamo where he dies
Donizetti’s operas (plus one unperformed and 4 second versions)
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Il Pigmalione (1816)
Enrico di Borgogna (1818)
Una follia (1818) (lost)
Le nozze in villa (1821)
Pietro il grande (1819)
Zoraida di Granata (1822)
La zingara (1822)
La lettera anonima (1822)
Chiara e Serafina, ossia I pirati (1822)
Alfredo il grande (1823)
L'ajo nell'imbarazzo (1824)
Emilia di Liverpool (1824)
Alahor in Granata (1826)
Elvida (1826)
Gabriella di Vergy (1826)
Olivo e Pasquale (1827)
Otto mesi in due ore (1827)
Il borgomastro di Saardam (1827)
Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali (1827)
L’esule di Roma (1828)
Alina, regina di Golconda (1828)
Gianni di Calais (1828)
Il paria (1829)
Il giovedì grasso (1829) (Il nuovo Pourceaugnac)
Il castello di Kenilworth (1829)
I pazzi per progetto (1830)
Il diluvio universale (1830)
Imelda de' Lambertazzi (1830)
Anna Bolena (1830)
Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali (1831)
Gianni di Parigi (1831)
Francesca di Foix (1831)
La romanziera e l'uomo nero (1831)
Fausta (1832)
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Ugo, conte di Parigi (1832)
L'elisir d'amore (1832)
Sancia di Castiglia (1832)
Il furioso all'isola di San Domingo (1833)
Parisina d'Este (1833)
Torquato Tasso (1833)
Lucrezia Borgia (1833)
Rosmonda d'Inghilterra (1834)
Gemma di Vergy (1834)
Marino Faliero (1835)
Maria Stuarda (1835)
Lucia di Lammermoor (1835)
Belisario (1836)
Il campanello (1836)
Betly, o La capanna svizzera (1836)
L'assedio di Calais (1836)
Roberto Devereux (1837)
Maria de Rudenz (1838)
Poliuto (1838)
Pia de' Tolomei (1838)
Le duc d'Albe (1839)
Lucie de Lammermoor (1839)
L'ange de Nisida (1839; unfinished)
La fille du régiment (1840)
Les martyrs (1840)
La favorite (1840)
Adelia (1841)
Rita (1841)
Maria Padilla (1841)
Linda di Chamounix (1842)
Don Pasquale (1843)
Maria di Rohan (1843)
Dom Sébastien (1843)
Caterina Cornaro (1844)
Donizetti’s style
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Early more “rossinian”
Primitive dramatic power of music
Extrovert, hearty romanticism
Obsessive dotted rhythms, absolute regularity of periodization,
primitive harmony
Catchy rhythms
Miraculous spontaneity of melodies
Sometimes Rossinian, more romantic vitality, later influenced by
Bellini and romanticism
In comedies blend of humor and tenderness
Responsive to individual qualities of singers
Skill at presenting the conventional forms in ways that appear fresh
Moments of real pathos alongside great comic humor.
All Elisir photos from the SFO productions 2000-2001 and 2008
Lucrezia Borgia (1833)
• Melodramma in one prologue and 2 acts
• Libretto by Felice Romani (also Gianni di Parigi;
Chiara e Serafina o Il pirata; Alina, regina di
Golconda; Rosmonda d’Inghilterra; Anna Bolena;
Ugo Conte di Parigi; L’elisir d’amore; Parisina;
Adelia o La figlia dell’arciere)
• Premiered La Scala (MI) 26 December 1833
• Based on Victor Hugo’s play also 1833
Lucrezia Borgia (1480-1519)
• Illegitimate daughter of Rodrigo Borgia (Borja,
from Valencia), future Pope Alexander VI and his
lover Vanozza de’ Cattanei (Mantuan princess of
house of Candia, courtesan)
• Her father and brother Cesare Borgia arranged
marriages for her:
– Giovanni Sforza (Lord of Pesaro)—marriage annulled
for political reason,
– Alfonso of Aragon (Duke of Bisceglie)—killed by
order of Lucrezia’s brother Cesare,
– Alfonso I d’Este (Duke of Ferrara)
Lucrezia Borgia (1480-1519)
• Had many extramarital relationships, and perhaps
also incestuous ones
• Had either 7 or 8 children
• Lots of rumors on extravagant parties,
relationships, poisonings, etc. but mostly due to
her family not her
• Knew 5 languages, befriended poets etc., smart
politician
• Her role in the family machinations is unclear
Pinturicchio (c.1494),
Disputa di Santa
Caterina (detail)
possible painting of Lucrezia
Borgia,
Appartamento Borgia, Sala
dei Santi, Vatican
Bartolomeo Veneto
Ritratto di donna
Possibly Lucrezia Borgia
Städelsches Kunstinstitut,
Frankfurt
Dosso Dossi
(1518 or 1535)
Ritratto di una giovane
(Lucrezia Borgia or her
daughter-in-law)
National Gallery of Victoria
Characters
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Don Alfonso, duca di Ferrara (B)
Donna Lucrezia Borgia (S), wife of Alfonso
Gennaro (T) young nobleman (Lucrezia’s son)
And:
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Maffio Orsini (MS) young nobleman
Jeppo Liverotto (T) young nobleman
Don Apostolo Gazella (B) young nobleman
Ascanio Petrucci (B)
Gubetta (B) Lucrezia’s emissary
Rustighello (T) Duke’s helper
Astolfo (B)
• In Venice and Ferrara, beginning of 16th century
Synopsis: prologue
Venice: a group of young noblemen, including Gennaro,
who is about to go to Ferrara as an ambassador, his
friend Maffio Orsini and a few others are enjoying the
Carnival at Palazzo Grimani. When his friends go off
into the ball Gennaro stays back and sleeps. A beautiful
woman arrives and while he is attracted by her she treats
him with tender concern and affection, especially when
he mentions the tribulations of his unknown mother.
When the others arrive she wants to flee but is retained
and Gennaro is horrified when all inform him that she is
the hated Lucrezia Borgia, wife of Duke Alfonso I
d’Este of Ferrara.
Act 1
Ferrara: Duke Alfonso suspects his wife to have an
affair with Gennaro and wants vengeance. Gennaro (sad
thinking about his mother) and his friends are strolling
around Ferrara and to prove he hates Lucrezia Gennaro
disfigures a Borgia crest-of-arms to read “orgia” (orgy).
Alfonso orders Gennaro seized and Lucrezia demands
the culprit be punished. When she realizes, horrified,
that it’s Gennaro she tries to save him but is forced to
pick the method of death. Knowing she has an antidote,
she picks poison, and after it is administered and the
Duke leaves she gives the potion to Gennaro and tells
him to flee Ferrara immediately.
Act 2
Gennaro is convinced by Orsini not to leave for Venice
before attending a party. They all drink and Orsini sings
a brindisi. When they hear ominous voices singing of
death they try to leave but they are locked in. Lucrezia,
all in black, appears and tells them they have all been
poisoned with the wine, for their insults. When she sees
Gennaro she is horrified and swears she did not intend
to extend her vengeance to him. She offers him the
remaining antidote but he refuses to save only himself.
As he is dying she tells him he is a Borgia and she is his
mother. She collapses.
Lucrezia Borgia: notable musical moments
• Lucrezia: “Com’è bello” (aria di sortita)
• Lucrezia-Gennaro: duet “Di pescatore ignobile”
• Lucrezia, Duca, Gennaro: terzet finale Act 1
“Trafitto tosto ei sia”
• Orsini: “Il segreto per esser felici” (Brindisi)
• Lucrezia: “M’odi, ah m’odi” (duet with Gennaro)
Venice: Palazzo Grimani
Ferrara: Palazzo d’Este
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The bel canto “school”