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Donizetti: Belisario (DVD)

Roberto Frontali, Simon Lim, Carmela Remigio, Annalisa Stroppa, Klodjan Kaçani; Orchestra Donizetti Opera/Riccardo Frizza (Dynamic / DVD)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Belisario (DVD)
Roberto Frontali, Simon Lim, Carmela Remigio, Annalisa Stroppa, Klodjan Kaçani; Orchestra Donizetti Opera/Riccardo Frizza; dir. Matteo Ricchetti (Bergamo, 2020)
Dynamic DVD: 37907; Blu-ray: 57907   131 mins


The Teatro Donizetti in Bergamo continues its large-scale project of releasing on DVD the composer’s more obscure works. Set in sixth-century Byzantium, Belisario’s story is one of quasi-filial devotion between a general and his prisoner of war and of a grieving mother’s desire for revenge. Composed immediately after Lucia di Lammermoor, the work was destined for less enduring fame, enjoying success during the 19th century but then falling decisively out of the international repertoire.

This, then, is an opera you are pretty unlikely to see on stage anywhere, but it is certainly worth hearing. This DVD presents the work in concert performance, recorded in November 2020 without audience and with orchestra and chorus masked. The obvious limitations of the format are, on the whole, successfully mitigated. Placing the principals in the stalls, facing the orchestra, allows them to move around, be more expressive than in a conventional concert performance, and engage with their fellow musicians.

The principals are, without exception, first-rate. Roberto Frontali, in the title role, has a voice that speaks profoundly of authority and wisdom. Carmela Remigio, as his grieving and aggrieved wife Antonina, plumbs the emotional depths with dignity and purity of tone. Annalisa Stroppa gives a spirited performance as Belisario’s daughter Irene, spanning the gamut of emotions from joie de vivre to angst. Supporting roles, too, are finely sung, particularly Klodjan Kaçani’s fresh-voiced Eutropio. Spritely conducting from Riccardo Frizza and dynamic playing from the Orchestra Donizetti Opera round off an enjoyable package. Catch this opera while you can.

Alexandra Wilson

Please note: This review has been amended since it was originally published in the February 2022 issue due to some confusion over the running time.

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