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“Lucrezia Borgia” is perhaps one of Donizetti’s most dramatic operas with arguably some of the most unlikeable characters in the artform. However, it ranks as one of his most inventive and one of his most compelling.
The music which brings audiences a step closer to early Verdi, sees Donizetti in experimental mode with some of the traditional forms. Those who are familiar with the double arias present throughout his oeuvre may find themselves surprised when he eschews them altogether. The same goes for other scenes in which Donizetti seems to be testing the line between traditional opera language and a potential for a newer and more direct one.
You probably wouldn’t realize just how ahead of its time “Lucrezia Borgia” actually was based on more modern approaches to the work, which often becomes a showcase for the leading lady and the vocal fireworks that she can put on during the performance, with the high notes of the finale often the most hotly anticipated moments of the night.
However, at the Donizetti Opera Festival, “Lucrezia Borgia” finally got its due with a remarkable cast and conductor that relied on dramatic force and a new critical edition that is said to be Donizetti’s final intentions for the opera.