Lucrezia Borgia, opera by Gaetano Donizetti on a libretto of Felice Romani based on the drama Lucrèce Borgia (1833) by Victor Hugo. First performed at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan on 26 december 1833. Concertant performance by the Salzburger Festspiele in the Grosses Festspielhaus in Salzburg on 30 august 2017.
Donna Lucrezia Borgia: Krassimira Stoyanova
Gennaro: Juan Diego Flórez
Maffio Orsini: Teresa Iervolino
Jeppo Liverotto: Mingjie Lei
Oloferno Vitellozzo: Ilker Arcayürek
Apostolo Gazella: Gleb Peryazev
Ascanio Petrucci: Ilya Kutyukin
Gubetta: Andrzej Filończyk
Rustighello: Andrew Haji
Astolfo: Gordon Bintner
Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor
Conductor: Marco Armiliato
The plot is somewhat weird: Lucrezia Borgia, wife of Don Alfonso of Ferrara, and a dreaded poisoner, is the mother of Gennaro, a young captain, but he does not know that Lucrezia is his mother. Gennaro falls in love with her, but his friends reveal her criminal deeds. She wows revenge on them. Dressed as “Countess Negroni” she invites them all to a party in Ferrara, not knowing that her husband has arrested Gennaro, whom he wants to kill suspecting him of being Lucrezia’s lover. Fatally enough, her husband forces her to poison her son. After Alfonso has left, she secretly hands over an antitoxin to Gennaro and asks him to escape. While serving poisoned wine to his friends, she realises that Gennaro has decided to stay (and drink) with them. He refuses to take the antitoxin as it is not enough to save his friends as well. He dies in her arms, and she reveals being his mother. She breaks down and dies as well.
Last but not least
This last performance of the Salzburg Summer Festival 2017 showed one specific characteristic of the modern opera world – there are sopranos who can sing well, and have powerful PR machinery that keeps them as divas “on top of the charts”. And then there are sopranos who do not have such machinery, but can sing much better, and would deserve the title “diva” for their abilities and art!
Bulgarian soprano Krassimira Stoyanova is one of the latter category. She has an incredibly wide repertoire, from Belcanto roles to Verdi and Puccini, from Strauss to lesser known Slavic pieces. As Lucrezia she coruscated in this concert performance. The role is extremely demanding, highly artistic skills are necessary to master the difficult coloraturas, to credibly deliver the necessary changing moods and emotions, to keep the dramatic power, and the stamina for 2 ½ hours.
Stoyanova had it all! She convinced as evil poisoner and even more as lovingly caring mother. The voice is secure, clear, and strong in all ranges. Maybe the final aria could have been sung a whiff more beautiful – but by whom? Leyla Gencer and Joan Sutherland are no longer available. Stoyanowa is definitely one of the most versatile sopranos around. She delivers art for the art, and not for a dubious PR society…
Her son Gennaro was sung by Juan Diego Flórez. As an expert for (also) Donizetti, it was of course a home game for the Belcanto tenor. His silver shining voice has matured and broadened for the past few years. Although his high notes are still impressive, he now shows a more solid, smooth middle range as well. The concert performance was beneficial to him, since he was not forced to concentrate on acting, which seems to be difficult for him at times.
Russsian bass Ildar Abrazakov was Don Alfonso. His voice is as black, secure, and broad as needed to convincingly deliver the murk character. Donizetti seems to suit him very well; I was not always convinced by him as a Verdi bass.
Excellent supporting cast
As strong antagonist to Lucrezia, young Italian mezzo soprano Teresa Iervolino sang the breeches part of Orsini. She showed a wide range in her dark voice, very strong especially in the lower register, but also secure enough in the high one. Sometimes I had the feeling she had difficulties with smooth transition from the lower to the higher register, but without any doubt she has an unmistakeable voice, and is unmistakably a promising talent!
All other singers made a good impression, too. The voice colour and especially the physical appearance of tenor Andrew Haji as Rusthigello reminded me strongly of Luciano Pavarotti. Gordon Binter (Astolfo), Gleb Peryazev (Don Apostolo Gazella), and Ilya Katyukin (Ascanio Petrucci) all who showed very promising material.
Conductor Marco Armiliato did not totally convince me. I have heard him conducting Verdi quite often, and he made a much better impression then. In this Lucrezia I would rate him as average; there were a few moments in which he had troubles to keep the orchestra and the chorus together. Although he tried to care a lot for the singers, I missed the balance between some buoyancy and pure thrill.
Gabi Eder (Published on 31/8/2017)