Donizetti : Elvida

1999 (Audio)

Director: Antonello Allemandi



  • Jennifer Larmore (Zeidar)
  • Pietro Spagnoli (Amur)
  • Annick Massis (Elvida)
  • Bruce Ford (Alfonso)
  • Anne Marie Gibbons (Zulma)Archivos para descarga:


Aporte de Jose Manuel

“Elvida” is a very early work in Donizetti’s career – his fifteenth opera, coming some four years before “Anna Bolena,” the earliest of his works to have entered the general repertory. As such, it’s almost inevitable that it will prove to be not a neglected masterwork, but an interesting example of how one of the greatest composers for the voice honed his craft. Still, it’s not without interest to listeners who enjoy early nineteenth-century Italian opera, and this recording does well by the piece.

The opera’s plot bears a slight, oversimplified resemblance to that of Mozart’s “Abduction From the Seraglio”: Elvida, a Spanish noblewoman, held captive by the Muslim ruler Amur, awaits rescue by her lover, Alfonso. The twist here is that it is not Amur who has fallen in love with the woman, but his son, Zeidar (a travesti role). Spoiler alert – there’s a happy ending for the Spaniards, and a pardon for the Muslims.

Donizetti sets the piece according to the dictates of his time, allotting his prima donna and primo tenore the only true solo arias in the piece, but giving the other principals strong presence in duets, a trio, and a quartet. One of the interesting technical innovations here lies in the way Donizetti ends each of the first two scenes, not giving us full stops with grand pauses, but practically dovetailing the music that ends one scene into the music that begins the next, so that the action is strongly continuous despite the need for three different settings – the stage crew at the San Carlo must have been scurrying to get the scene changes done quickly enough!

In this recording, Annick Massis makes a fine Elvida, and Jennifer Larmore is even better as Zeidar. Bruce Ford is a little tight and steely as Alfonso – if I were Elvida and were judging my suitors on their vocal allure, I’d dump the guy and take up Zeidar’s offer! – but he’s still ardent and graceful. Pietro Spagnoli’s Amur is authoritative and, where required, fiery. The singers’ diction is excellent, and they handle their acrobatically florid roles well, articulating coloratura passages cleanly without aspirating them.

Conductor Antonello Allemandi proves a fine accompanist with the London Philharmonic, responding flexibly so that he moves things along smoothly while allowing the singers the breathing room and rubato that the period’s style demands. The Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, generally playing various bands of Muslim and Spanish soldiers either heading off to battle or celebrating their victories, sings with lusty enthusiasm.