DONIZETTIs “ L’ESULE DI ROMA “

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Opera Rara recordings: Nicola Alaimo (Murena); Albina Shagimuratova (Argelia); Sergey Romanovsky (Settimio); , Lluís Calvet i Pey (Publio); Kezia Bienek (Leontina); André Henriques (Lucio/Fulvio)Britten Sinfonia | Carlo Rizzi, conductor. Opera Rara Chorus

On Friday 1 MarchOpera Rara release its 27th complete Donizetti revival, L’esule di Roma (‘The Exile of Rome’), with Britten Sinfonia conducted by Opera Rara’s Artistic Director Carlo Rizzi. Nicola Alaimo is Murena, the Roman senator wracked by guilt for having condemned to exile Settimio, portrayed by Sergey Romanovsky, who is the lover of Murena’s daughter Argelia – sung by Albina Shagimuratova. Alaimo, Shagimuratova and Romanovsky are joined by emerging artists Lluís Calvet i Pey, Kezia Bienek, and André Henriques, all of whom make their recording debuts with this release.

 Set in Imperial Rome, L’esule di Roma is one of Donizetti’s experimental Neapolitan works which, like Il Paria (ORC60) and Imelda de’ Lambertazzi (ORC36), was composed prior to Anna Bolena . Roger Parker, Opera Rara’sRepertoire Consultant, describes L’esule di Roma – which boasts one of the composer’s best bass-baritone roles – as a milestone in Donizetti’s career. Murena’s Act 2 descent into madness is a ‘remarkable anticipation of Donizetti’s mad scenes of the 1830s’, including most famously that in Lucia di Lammermoor.

This premiere studio recording of L’esule di Roma is based on a new critical edition created for Opera Rara by Parker and co-editor Ian Schofield. Following a week of recording in May 2023, Opera Rara presented L’esule di Roma at London’s Cadogan Hall: ‘Rare Donizetti is a roaring success… Opera Rara’s concert performance under the conductor Carlo Rizzi caught the score’s volatile energy and even flares of psychological intensity’ (The Times). Opera Rara’sthird project with Britten Sinfonia comes hot on the heels of the International Opera Awards recognising their second collaboration – the world premiere recording of Mercadante’s Il proscritto (ORC62), conducted by Carlo Rizzi – as the Best Complete Opera Recording of 2023. A month prior to the release of L’esule di Roma , on 9 February, Rizzi’s Puccini symphonic suite arrangements ofTosca and Madama Butterfly  will be released by Signum Classics.

Last September, as part of a year-long celebration of Donizetti’s 225th birthday, Opera Rara launched its Donizetti Song Project with Lawrence Brownlee and Carlo Rizzi at Wigmore Hall: an ambitious new multi-year initiative to record and perform Donizetti’s entire corpus of solo songs, nearly 200 in total of which many have never been heard before. On Thursday 23 May, Opera Rara presents its second ‘Donizetti & Friends’ recital at Wigmore Hall, this time with Artist Ambassador Ermonela Jaho accompanied by Rizzi. A few months later Opera Rara will release its first two Donizetti Song Project albums, featuring Brownlee and Nicola Alaimo.

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Alaimo, who first worked with Opera Rara in Donizetti’s Belisario (ORC49), will replace Igor Golovatenko to sing the title role in the company’s next major opera project: the original 1857 version of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra with the Hallé and Opera Rara’s former Artistic Director, Sir Mark Elder. Opera Rara’s cast for the performance on Thursday 18 April at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall is completed by Eleonora Buratto as Amelia, Iván Ayón-Rivas as Gabriele Adorno and William Thomas as Jacopo Fiesco.