- Le duc d'Albe (Il duca d'Alba), opera
Donizetti: Le Duc d'Albeby Mark Elder
"Le Duc d'Albe" is, believe it or not, a Donizetti world premiere recording. Donizetti left the work unfinished as he descended into syphilitic madness in the late 1840s; it seems to have been one of the last things he worked on. The opera is known, and not well known at that, in a later Italian-language completion ("Il Duca d'Alba") by Matteo Salvi, and this French-language grand opera version received its premiere performance only in 2012. The story, set in the age of Spanish rule over the Netherlands, is the same as that of Verdi's "I Vespri Siciliani," which also exists in a French version and which was written by the same librettists, but given a new locale. At any rate, here you get only the first two acts ("Il Duca d'Alba" fleshed out a partially sketched third act), and they're well worth hearing. The story's canvas is large, with a love story set against a background of military and political intrigue, and it is remarkable how Verdian Donizetti sounds here (indeed, a lot more Verdian than Verdi sounded in 1839, when the bulk of the music was composed). In structure it is a "number opera" with recitatives, arias, and big choruses, but the music is closely connected to the action and never seems to come to full stops. The performance by Opera Rara, which is true to its name, is very strong, with the Hallé Orchestra's rehearsal room, the deconsecrated Hallé St. Peter's church, providing a recording space of reasonable clarity. The star of the first two acts is the soprano role Hélène d'Egmont, daughter of a Flemish war hero executed by the titular duke and in love with his son. It's a big part that demands both limpid tunes and some fireworks, and you get both from soprano Angela Meade. Sample her second-act aria "Ton ombre murmure" (CD two, track six). The unfussy choral and orchestral work by the Hallé Orchestra under Sir Mark Elder is another attraction of a release that will be a necessity for Donizetti buffs.
- Release Date:
- Opera Rara Uk
Performance CreditsMark Elder Primary Artist
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