Lucrezia Borgia (DVD)
Carmela Remigio, Marko Mimica, Xabier Anduaga, Varduhi Abrahamyan; Piacenza Municipal Theatre Choir; Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini/Riccardo Frizza; dir. Andrea Bernard (Bergamo, 2019)
Dynamic DVD: 37849; Blu-ray: 57849 144 mins
Donizetti fans have been treated to a veritable banquet lately, as the Fondazione Teatro Donizetti in Bergamo continues to release performances of both well- and little-known operas by the composer. This 2019 Lucrezia Borgia presents the work as you will have never seen it before, using a new critical edition that combines elements of the 1833 La Scala premiere and the 1840 Paris version to create a more coherent dramatic narrative.
Though many past productions have revelled in a sumptuous, decadent Renaissance aesthetic, simplicity is the watchword of this production by Andrea Bernard. The men’s costumes lightly reference period dress but the Lucrezia of the Prologue, in white shirt and black trousers, could be a woman on her way to the office. Black costumes against black backdrops become rather wearing on the eye and the production takes a while to hook us into the world of the opera. Thankfully, things hot up in Act I: the scene between Lucrezia and her husband, Don Alfonso, as they argue over whether and how Lucrezia’s secret son Gennaro should be murdered, is dynamic and thrilling.
All three principals are first-rate. Carmela Remigio (Lucrezia) combines vocal sweetness with dramatic muscle. Marko Mimica is a casual psychopath in a leather coat and buzz cut. And the young Spanish tenor Xabier Anduaga (Gennaro) has an ardent, yearning voice with exquisite ringing tones – definitely a talent to look out for. With a strong supporting cast,
there is a good deal here to please the bel canto enthusiast.