Zoraida di Granata - Gaetano Donizetti
24th, 27th, 31st October, 3rd November
Melodramma eroico in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti
Libretto by Bartolomeo Merelli, revised by librettist Jacopo Ferretti
Sung in Italian with English subtitles
Teatro Argentina, Rome, Italy, 1822
A co-production with Donizetti Opera Festival, Bergamo
2h 10min approx. with interval
Any A-Z of Donizetti’s 70 or so operas must eventually come to Zoraida di Granata, but actually, it belongs much higher up the list: a very early work, it was his first big success. The composer was only 24 when Zoraida di Granata was premiered at Rome’s Teatro Argentina in January 1822, and the opera was nearly born under an unlucky star, since the tenor originally cast as Abenamet fell fatally ill during rehearsals. There being no understudy, Donizetti hastily rewrote and shortened the part for a contralto Adelaide Mazzanti. When Donizetti revised the opera for the same theatre two years later, with a much starrier Abenamet, Rosamunda Pisaroni, he upgraded the part accordingly.
Only a handful of Donizetti’s operas hold a place in the mainstream repertoire, but our appreciation of them has been radically changed by a better acquaintance with some of the lesser-known titles. Zoraida di Granata is probably the earliest of his works that opera-lovers at least have a chance of knowing since about 25 years ago Opera Rara released a ground-breaking recording of the piece. The music shows the composer, if still under the influence of his teacher Simone Mayr, absorbing the brilliance of Rossini. It is also a work of great significance since the success of Zoraida di Granata led Donizetti to win a contract with the impresario Domenico Barbaja, who opened his path to Naples and an eight-year apprenticeship there that left him ready to burst through with Anna Bolena at La Scala in 1830.
With the exception of the Donizetti Opera Festival (Bergamo, Italy), Wexford Festival Opera has produced more works by Gaetano Donizetti than any other opera festival in the world. In particular, WFO is credited for the rediscovery of L’elisir d’amore, in 1952, which has subsequently found its way into the operatic canon.
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