The musical history of Kenilworth Castle
The unexpected inspiration behind an Italian opera
Venture into the Warwickshire countryside, and you’ll come across the magnificent ruins of Kenilworth Castle. Perfect for a day trip, this former royal fortress starred in Walter Scott’s 1821 novel Kenilworth.
Set in Elizabethan England, Scott’s book recounts the secret marriage of the Earl of Leicester to Amy Robsart, who is murdered by the Earl’s ruthless steward. Good material for an opera libretto?
While Beethoven remained unconvinced, reportedly throwing his copy of Kenilworth on the floor in a fit of rage, Donizetti thought otherwise. In 1829 the Italian opera composer penned Elisabetta al castello di Kenilworth, the first of his operas featuring Elizabeth I.
Most other Kenilworth-inspired pieces are long forgotten – Aubert, Sullivan and Bliss all had a go – but Donizetti’s has made it the present day, and launched tenor Juan Diego Flórez’s career at Covent Garden in 1997.
Where is it?: Warwickshire, West Midlands
Open: 10am-5pm (4pm in winter)
Entry: £6.10 adults; £3.10 children; £5.00 concessions
For more: see www.english-heritage.org.uk
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