Lucrezia Borgia

Lucrezia Borgia and Gennaro

I love Donizetti’s melodramas. They are light-hearted, compared with those heavy weight opera rivals. And the music is often expressive, vivid – emotional, romantic, ever so delightful, never a dull moment through out.

Last night, I watched Lucrezia Borgia again on Sky Art.

Lucrezia Borgia and Alfonso d'Este

Sex, blood, love, poison – gruesome yet passionate. This is Lucrezia Borgia, Donnizetti’s masterpiece about one of the most influential families in Renaissance Italy.

It was marvelous to be able to see so many close-ups on screen. Opera is a performing art. It’s not just about singing. The expressions are vital to the roles. Missing out such details can be such a shame.

A few days ago, I was sitting at ENO (English National Opera) with a friend, probably an opera virgin, who got two tickets from a friend of hers with a very small price to pay. The result was we were sitting at the back of the theatre. Nevertheless, I was extremely grateful. Without her, I wouldn’t have come to this show as I hardly knew anything about Lucrezia Borgia.

It turned out that Lucrezia Borgia had not been made into production in London in the last 30 years! And this was the world’s first ever opera broadcast live on 3D.

The main reason I wasn’t keen to see operas at ENO was I had twice bad experience there. First of all, they  sang operas in English and I believe this will hamper the originality – the language itself has its beauty, although I might not be able to understand the words. Then they tried to modernise the operas by injecting some contemporary ideas into the stage design and costumes. That was horrible, too.

Lucrezia Borgia Film

But Lucrezia Borgia took me by surprise. Director Mike Figgis stick to the tradition and in the same time collaborated with a special commissioned film (he directed himself with a different cast) which gave audience a multi-dimensional experience. The film portrayed  Lucrezia’s early life and this added depth to what was shown on the stage. Audience in the theatre might not be able to fully appreciate the innovation of 3D technology. However, it was brave to bring new elements and present them to a wider audience – think about how many people who could not afford the tickets and those who have not got the opportunity to travel to London. What about the younger generation who grew up with latest gadgets and technologies?

The exquisite costumes and stage setting truly captured the grandeur of the Renaissance period in Italy. Not to mention a wonderful cast – Claire Rutter (Lucrezia Borgia, Soprano); Michael Fabiano (Gennaro, Tenor); Elizabeth DeShong (Maffio Orsini, Soprano); Alastair Miles (Alfonso d’Este, Baritone).  Without a doubt, Claire took the stage by storm with her huge stage presence. She sang effortlessly throughout the opera. Towards the end, she pulled off that critical 15 minute long performance with her incredible skills and powerful voice.


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