Donizetti: La favorite

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Donizetti
LABELS: RCA Red Seal
WORKS: La favorite
PERFORMER: Vesselina Kasarova, Ramón Vargas, Anthony Michaels-Moore, Carlo Colombara, Francesco Piccoli, Abbie Furmansky; Bavarian Radio Chorus, Munich Radio Orchestra/Marcello Viotti
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 66229 2
Though it contains a couple of often-recorded arias, this four-act grand opéra written for the Paris Opera, where it had its premiere in 1840, is one of Donizetti’s less frequently performed works (except in Italy, where an unsatisfactory Italian version, La favorita, continues to be staged). Most of its music was, in fact, written for L’ange de Nisida (The Angel of Nisida), an opera he had been composing the previous year for another Paris theatre which had, however, been forced to close. (L’ange de Nisida itself contained music he had written five years earlier for Adelaide, which he abandoned incomplete.)

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Though it is hardly one of Donizetti’s most finely wrought scores, the opera can still prove successful when performed with a proper appreciation of its style, as on this recording. Vesselina Kasarova brings her rich mezzo-soprano and strong personality to the role of Leonore, mistress of Alphonse XI, King of Castile, singing her great Act III aria, ‘O mon Fernand’, most beautifully. As Fernand, whom she loves and who finally has to choose between her and a monastery, Ramón Vargas is stylish and fluent in his two arias with their dauntingly high range, and Anthony Michaels-Moore is a strong Alphonse. Marcello Viotti conducts authoritatively. Charles Osborne