Vittorio Grigolo purposely waited to record his first operatic solo album until he had something unique to communicate in the repertoire and has chosen arias representing the culture I come from. THE ITALIAN TENOR presents music from three giants of the lyric stage Gaetano Donizetti, Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini and combines famous arias with lesser-known discoveries. The album was recorded in the Teatro, Regio di Parma with the resident orchestra and conductor Pier Giorgio Morandi.Donizetti's Una furtiva lagrima (L'Elisir d'Amore) has been a litmus test of the Italian tenor since the days of Enrico Caruso, whose famous performance of the aria paved the way for the opera's return to the repertoire after years of neglect. Equally beautiful is Spirto gentil (La Favorita) in which the lead character laments the loss of his love forever.
Don Pasquale is among the last of Donizetti’s sixty-six completed operas. After the successful premiere of Linda di Chamounix in Vienna in May 1842. Donizetti made his way to Milan, hoping to get a new libretto for a comic opera for Paris. He actually started on a work called ‘Ne m’oubliez pas’ (do not forget me) before abandoning it when he got the commission to write a comic opera for the Théâtre Italien. Giovanni Ruffini, an Italian political exile living in Paris, wrote the libretto based on a previous opera by Pavesi. Donizetti was not happy with Ruffini’s verses and made changes of his own to the extent that his librettist refused to attach his name to the printed libretto.
For me, this recording represents the absolute epitome of bel canto singing, with Pavarotti spinning endless golden tone as Fernand and Fiorenza Cossotto showcasing that indomitable chest-voice as Leonora.–Katherine Cooper
Composed for Venice in 1837, just a year-and-a-half after the fantastic success of Lucia di Lammermoor, Pia de' Tolomei "pleased altogether", in the composer's words. He revised it a couple of times thereafter and it was shown at various theaters as distant as Malta until 1855, after which it disappeared. It takes place in 13th-century Siena: Pia is married to Nello; his cousin Ghino loves her but she refuses his advances. Ghino angrily accuses Pia of adultery with an unknown man, who turns out to be Pia's brother, Rodrigo, and Nello imprisons her. Ghino eventually feels remorse and confesses his deception, but not soon enough to save Pia from being poisoned by Nello.
Despite its moronic libretto, the opera was an enormous success at its premiere in Naples in 1822, and even Bellini wrote nice things about the second-act septet. Donizetti mixes buffo and serious characters, as well as Neapolitan dialect (there are no recitatives; numbers are separated by spoken dialogue) with “pure” Italian, and the absurd plot is (sort of) held together by the clever Argilla, who under the guise of telling fortunes gains entry to people’s feelings as well as to every area of the castle. Is it a masterpiece? Even close? No, but there are niceties galore–rhythmic arias and ensembles, good (if typical) characterizations, and good tunes.
Ugo, conte di Parigi is widely regarded as Gaetano Donizetti's most obscure opera, having closed after only four performances in 1832. Its first modern revival was not given until a concert performance held in London in 1977, on which occasion it was recorded and issued as the first in Opera Rara's survey of Donizetti's complete operatic output, garnering considerable acclaim. In more recent times the Italian label Dynamic has instituted its own Donizetti series and has now gotten around to Ugo, conte di Parigi. For its recording, Dynamic has utilized a live performance from Teatro Donizetti in Bergamo held in October 2003 and featuring exciting young Romanian soprano Doina Dimitriu.
Caterina Cornaro was written in the extremely productive last period of Donizetti's life (between Don Pasquale and Linda di Chamounix) and was the last of his operas to be premiered in the composer’s lifetime. Like every other work of this period, it is intensely original, in this case being unusually dark in both subject matter and general musical tone. This is the only opera of Donizetti’s later period not to have had a quality modern recording.
Coming in at a tidy three hours and eight minutes, Donizetti’s huge Les Martyrs, composed (or adapted) for Paris in 1840, is here presented in its fullest conceivable form, including ballet and many passages cut right after the first performances. The opera was a reworking of his 1838 Poliuto, composed for the San Carlo in Naples, which had been banned by the king himself, since Christian martyrdom under the Romans was found unpleasant by the censors and the king was devoutly religious.
Revived after 171 years in oblivion, the staging of Rosmonda dInghilterra at Bergamos Teatro Donizetti proved fascinating for the Italian public. From the excellent cast of singers, Jessica Pratt and Eva Mei gave standout performances. The opera revolves around a tale of love and intrigue surrounding the main protagonists- the famous Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, her husband Henry II of England, and the fair Rosamund de Clifford. Rosmonda is the quintessential innocent, unaware that the man she loves is the King of England and that she has unwittingly become a rival to the much-feared Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor, having already had her first marriage annulled for reasons of consanguinity, is unwilling to se her second marriage also fail. Only the faithful page Arturo, secretly in love with Rosmonda, knows that the Queen is aware of her husbands betrayal; but he too is embroiled in this game of deceit hoping that he will end up winning the girl. The emotional and dramatic development is very effective. There is not a page in this score without some example of brilliant writing, a captivating theme, a moving passage. It all goes to prove how deeply original Donizetti was and how much there is still to be discovered about this underappreciated composer.
Although it was Donizetti’s first theatrical success, the original 1822 version of this violent love story was never given a complete performance because the tenor cast in the role of the hero died shortly before the first night. Even so, Donizetti quickly adapted this role for a mezzo-soprano, achieving his first theatrical success. Opera Rara presents the world premiere of the original tenor version. In addition the recording includes six more pieces written for the 1824 revival.