Magazine article Gramophone

Donizetti: Caterina Cornaro

Magazine article Gramophone

Donizetti: Caterina Cornaro

Article excerpt

Donizetti Caterina Cornaro  Carmen Giannattasio sop           Caterina Cornaro Graeme Broadbent bass               Andrea Cornaro Colin Lee ten                              Gerardo Troy Cook bar                            Lusignano Vuyani Mlinde bass-bar                    Mocenigo Loic Felix ten                      Strozzi/Knight Sophie Bevan sop                           Matilde 

BBC Singers; BBC Symphony Orchestra / David Parry

Opera Rara (F) (2) ORC48 (116' * DDD * S/T/t)

Opera Rara with the last work staged in Donizetti's lifetime

The historical Caterina Comaro was the means by which Venice came to rule the island of Cyprus. She was married off by her wealthy father to James II, the illegitimate scion of the Lusignan dynasty. After her husband died the next year, almost certainly poisoned, she reigned as a puppet of the Venetians until she was forced to abdicate in 1489. She lived until 1510, presiding over what Jeremy Commons, in his characteristically informative booklet-note, calls 'a small but brilliant and cultured court'.

She was no beauty, to judge from a contemporary portrait by Gentile Bellini (the Titian reproduced on the CD box was painted long after her death). But the opera plot, modelled on Halevy's La reine de Chypre,

gives her a lover, Gerardo, whom she is made to renounce when on the point of marrying him. When he turns up in Nicosia, his life is saved by the king, Lusignano. Gerardo, now in holy orders, swears loyalty to his fellow Frenchman but is unable to save him from being poisoned. …

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