Enrico di Borgogna
Anna Bonitatibus, Sonia Ganassi, Levy Sekgapane, Francesco Castoro, Luca Tittoto (voices); Donizetti Opera Choir; Academia Montis Regalis/Alessandro De Marchi; Dir. Silvia Paoli (Bergamo, 2018)
Dynamic 37833 57833 160.00 mins (DVD)
Recorded live at the Donizetti Festival in Bergamo, this is apparently the first performance of the opera to be released on DVD or Blu-ray; in fact it was the prolific composer’s first opera to reach the stage, at the Teatro San Luca in Venice in 1818, when he was just 18 years old. Granted its early position in Donizetti’s output, one should perhaps not expect too much; yet while inevitably there’s a good deal of Rossini in the mix, there’s already something in the style which one might regard as Donizetti’s own. At its best – the first-act finale, for instance – the score is impressive.
Set in 13th-century Burgundy, the plot concerns the restoration of the rightful King Henry following many years of tyranny by the usurper whose son Guido is now on the throne. Naturally, right triumphs and Enrico wins both the throne and Elisa, the woman he loves. Perhaps unsurprisingly, director Silvia Paoli decides to play much of the piece for laughs, and her production – set in a kind of small theatre-within-a-theatre – is busy to the point of regularly being overdone. Vocally things are better, with Anna Bonitatibus giving an expressive, stylistically secure and intelligent performance as Enrico: a considered actor, she possesses conviction as a young man.
Sonia Ganassi offers a finely-sung Elisa, while even if his is not the most ingratiating tone, Levy Sekgapane’s fluent tenor can get around all the notes written for Guido. As the stock villain and – in this production at least – the chief comic character, Luca Tittoto presents a well-crafted account of Guido’s jester, Gilberto. Both the orchestra and chorus are decent and conductor Alessandro De Marchi keeps the show on the road effectively. George Hall