‚. ..in Nicola Alaimo’s Belisario and Joyce El-Khouri ’s Antonina we gor an ideal pairing, bis resonant Sicilian bari tone wonderfully complemented by the silky perfection of her sound, and by the Callas- like way she shaped her lines – I lang to see and hear her perform again. If this performance is anything to go by, Opera Rara’s Cd will make an incontrovertible case for this austere but prophetically Verdian work.‘ (The Independent, 29 October 2012)
When Patric Schmid and Don White conceived Opera Rara more than 40 years ago , one of their first aims was to establish a Donizetti collection, to which they would add a recording each year. Over the years, Opera Rara’s repertoire has expanded to include a broad range of 19th century French and Italian composers, but Donizetti has remained at its heart and Belisario marks the twenty – second complete opera by Donizetti that Opera Rara has recorded.
Generally acknowledged to be one of Donizetti’s finest achievements, Belisario dates from the high watermark of Donizetti’s maturity .It received its premiere in 1836 (the year after the debut of Maria Stuarda in Milan and Lucia di Lammermoor in Naples) and proved a triumph on stages throughout the 19th century. Opera Rara recorded the work, in the studio, last October and this was immediately followed with a concert performance at London’s Barbican Hall.As Rupert Christiansen commented in the The Telegraph: ‚Donizetti’s Belisario proved a revelation´. Written just before Lucia di Lammermoor (and containing a similar sextet) , it ‚s a muscular, martial melodrama about a Byzantine general whose honour is besmirched by a scheming wife.‘
The matching of Sir Mark Elder conducting the BBC Symphony Orchest ra and BBC Singers with a cast of young and up – and – coming singers including Nicola Alaimo , Joyce El-Koury (making her recording debut as Antonina) and Russell Thomas, reinforces Opera Rara’s commitment to working with young talent as well as the art form ’s established names.
Nicola Alaimo (Belisario); Joyce El-Khoury (Antonina); Camilla Roberts (Irene); Alastair Miles (Giustiniano); Peter Hoare (Eutropio); Russell Thomas (Alamiro); Julia Sporsen (Eudora); Darren Jeffery (Centurion); Edward Price (Eusebio); Michael Bundy (Ottario); BBC Symphony Orchestra & BBC Singers; Sir Mark Elder, Conductor, 2 CDs Opera Rara ORC49