Friday, 14 March 2014

Donizetti study day

Nelly Miricioiu as Elisabetta in Roberto Devereux in Pordenone, 2008
Nelly Miricioiu as Elisabetta
in Roberto Devereux
in Pordenone, 2008
Yesterday was the second of Masterclass & Co's Divas and Scholars bel canto study days, this one devoted to the operas of Donizetti (all seventy-odd of them!). The morning was devoted to lectures from the writer and broadcaster Mel Cooper and conductor and coach Philip Headlam, followed in the afternoon by a lecture recital by the distinguished soprano Nelly Miricioiu. She not only talked about Donizetti's operas and how she performed them, but sang extracts from them.


With the help of recordings, Cooper took us through both Donizettti's life, and the 20th century revival of his operas let notably by Maria Callas. Then Philip Headlam gave us some insight into Donizetti's musical language, playing extracts from his scores at the piano.

Accompanied by Philip Mountford, Nelly Miricioiu started her lecture/recital with a performance of Maria Stuarda's first aria from Donizettti's Maria Stuarda. Miricioiu then went on to talk about Donizetti's operas and how she performed them, emphasising the emotional and dramatic truth of the music; this was palpable when we experienced her performing in such intimate surroundings. Miricioiu was also joined by two young singers, mezzo-soprano Hanna-Liisa Kirchin who sang O Mio Fernando from Donizetti's La Favorita and soprano Bryony Williams who sang one of Adina's arias from L'Elisir d'Amore. Miricioiu also demonstrated the influence that Donizetti had on Verdi, by performing short extracts from both Donizetti and Verdi operas side by side, so that we were able to compare and contrast similar passages from Lucia di Lammermoor, Luisa Miller, Lucrezia Borgia and Macbeth. All in all a wonderful combination of insights from a great artists into how she performs along with some stunning performances.

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