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Donizetti: Lucrezia Borgia / Frizza, Fleming, Fabiano, Kowaljow, Deshong

Release Date: 10/29/2013 
Label:  Euroarts   Catalog #: 2059648  
Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Renée FlemingVitalij KowaljowMichael FabianoElizabeth Deshong
Conductor:  Riccardo Frizza
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Opera OrchestraSan Francisco Opera Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Length: 3 Hours 4 Mins. 

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A notorious femme fatale renowned for her ruthless pursuit of power reveals poignant vulnerability when she comes face to face with her long-lost son in this captivating, elegant production from San Francisco Opera.

Gaetano Donizetti

Lucrezia Borgia – Renée Fleming
Gennaro – Michael Fabiano
Maffio Orsine – Elizabeth DeShong
Duke Alfonso – Vitalij Kowaljow

San Francisco Opera Ballet
San Francisco Opera Chorus and Orchestra
(chorus master: Ian Robertson)
Riccardo Frizza, conductor

John Pascoe, stage director,
Read more set and costume designer
Jeffrey Bruckerhoff, lighting designer
Lawrence Pech, choreographer

Recorded live from the War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco, August 2012

- Interviews with Renée Fleming, Michael Fabiano, Elizabeth DeShong
- Production time-lapse: 24 hours on stage in 8 minutes

Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo / Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: English, German, French, Japanese, Korean
Booklet notes: English, German, French
Running time: 184 mins
No. of DVDs: 2

R E V I E W: 3751340.az_DONIZETTI_Lucrezia_Borgia_Riccardo.html

DONIZETTI Lucrezia Borgia Riccardo Frizza, cond; Renée Fleming (Lucrezia); Elizabeth DeShong (Orsini); Michael Fabiano (Gennaro); Vitalij Kowaljow (Alfonso); San Francisco Op O & Ch EUROARTS 2059648 (2 DVDs: 127:00 + 19:00). Live: San Francisco 9–10/2011

Many opera lovers underrate Donizetti’s talents, but continued exposure to his “lesser” works evokes full-hearted admiration from the more discerning. Lucrezia Borgia exists when a star soprano has the power to convince management that it is worth doing. Prior to the famous New York debut of Montserrat Caballé, few were the performances. Not only did Caballé do herself a favor, but music lovers were grateful for the opportunity to experience a work that otherwise languished in the archives. By 1833, the composer was approaching artistic maturity, and the chance to set an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s tragedy was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate this mastery. Some find it difficult to accept the basic premise of the opera (Gennaro is Lucrezia’s son, but he doesn’t know it). What we do get is a work full of melody, always expressive, alongside the confrontations and confusion that abound in Romantic opera. John Pascoe’s production is set in period costumes and sets, though the punk haircuts and leather outfits sometimes evoke a more contemporary feeling. Renée Fleming has sung the opera before, not always to universal acclaim, but she is in good form here with all her usual quirks. The second DVD contains interviews with the three principal singers, and the soprano admits that the “bluesy” writing inspired some of her vocalism. Michael Fabiano, in an amazing blond wig, lets us know that the enthusiastic acclaim that precedes him is justified. He has the requisite ringing high notes, but also the ability to sing softly (and impressive pecs), and has the opportunity to demonstrate his talents in the revised finale, where he has an extended death scene. Elizabeth DeShong, a name hitherto unknown to me, is a knockout. She sings the trouser role of Orsini for all she’s worth, and her two solos are highlights of the performance. I would question Pascoe’s decision to emphasize the homoerotic character of the Gennaro-Orsini relationship, as they almost appear to be singing a love duet. Vitalij Kowaljow’s Alfonso does not have an easy task with three such performers and the brevity of his role, but he is not outclassed. The large supporting cast is uniformly excellent, while conductor Riccardo Frizza keeps everything moving along, rarely ceding to the diva’s penchant for slow tempos. For another take on the work, there is a performance from Munich with Edita Gruberova set in “universal” contemporary decors, the men all wearing black suits with little opportunity to differentiate among them. If the Pascoe version is a concert in costume (as some might say), than that of Christof Loy is a concert version. And I know which I prefer.

FANFARE: Joel Kasow
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Works on This Recording

Lucrezia Borgia by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano), Vitalij Kowaljow (Bass), Michael Fabiano (Tenor),
Elizabeth Deshong (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Riccardo Frizza
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Opera Orchestra,  San Francisco Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833; Italy 

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