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  • Belisario
  • Belisario


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ALAC 24 bit

Apple format, here at 24 bit i.e. lossless studio master quality; this is better than a CD and is only available on this website. Will play in iTunes. Can be converted to MP3.

Belisario is, quite simply, one of Donizetti’s finest achievements. Dating from the high watermark of Donizetti’s maturity, with its premiere in 1836 (the year after the debut of Maria Stuarda... read more

Song title Time Format Price
playstop01 Sinfonia06:44
playstop02 Plauso di eterna gloria01:58
playstop03 Corri, amica, voliam sulla sponda05:26
playstop04 Plauso! Voci di gioja!...02:20
playstop05 Sin la tomba è a me negata!...02:53
playstop06 Ti conforta: dell00:56
playstop07 O desio della vendetta03:57
playstop08 O Nume degli eserciti03:24
playstop09 Cesare, hai vinto: e l02:28
playstop10 Liberi siete... Quando di sangue tinto04:28
playstop11 Sul campo della gloria03:28
playstop12 Padre!...02:37
playstop13 Che mai sarà?03:38
playstop14 Sostegni del mio trono, un fero evento03:23
playstop15 Figlia, consorte...01:58
playstop16 Ah! da chi son03:33
playstop17 Madre tu fosti, e moglie01:43
playstop18 Sognai... fra genti... barbare...02:23
playstop19 Ah! Pera l02:48
playstop20 Oh duce! Oh eccesso orribile!...02:25
playstop21 Comando fu di Cesare02:33
playstop22 A sì tremendo annunzio02:43
playstop23 Vien la figlia01:38
playstop24 Misera figlia… Irene addio... Trema Bisanzio03:50
playstop25 Amici, è forza separarci...04:46
playstop26 Se vederla a me non lice...02:00
playstop27 Ah! se potessi piangere04:52
playstop28 Dunque andiam: de03:58
playstop29 Introduzione02:29
playstop30 Qui siedi, o padre, e le tue stanche membra02:24
playstop31 Diffondasi terribile01:22
playstop32 Impavidi guerrieri00:56
playstop33 Fermate! Belisario!02:22
playstop34 Mi mancano gli accenti...01:35
playstop35 Se il figlio/fratel/padre stringere02:44
playstop36 Figli, partiam: qui l03:57
playstop37 Itene al campo, e sia palese al duce02:52
playstop38 Da quel dì che l03:28
playstop39 Vittoria! Vittoria!01:25
playstop40 Di pianto, di gemiti06:06
playstop41 Egli è spento, e del perdono03:58

Belisario is, quite simply, one of Donizetti’s finest achievements. Dating from the high watermark of Donizetti’s maturity, with its premiere in 1836 (the year after the debut of Maria Stuarda in Milan and Lucia di Lammermoor in Naples), Belisario proved a triumph on stages throughout the 19th century. Yet, incredibly, it is little known today. The libretto, by Salvadore Cammarano (who collaborated with Donizetti on Lucia di Lammermoor), tells the moving and typically complicated story of the 6th century Byzantine general. Falsely accused by his wife, Antonina, of killing their son, he was blinded and exiled as his punishment. Only the recognition by his daughter, Irene, that her father’s former captive, Alamiro, was her long-lost brother restores Belisario’s reputation; tragically, too late to save his life.

Opera Rara’s Artistic Director, and one of today’s most celebrated conductors, Sir Mark Elder, conducts this neglected masterpiece in a studio recording, directing the choral and orchestral forces of the BBC Singers and BBC Symphony Orchestra and the stunning cast is headed by young Sicilian baritone Nicola Alaimo (Belisario). Rising Canadian star soprano, Joyce El-Khoury, makes her recording debut as Antonina, American tenor Russell Thomas is Alamiro, Welsh soprano Camilla Roberts is Irene and the role of Emperor Giustiniano is sung by the esteemed bass Alastair Miles.

Opera Rara’s studio recording comes with a lavishly illustrated booklet with detailed article and libretto translation by acclaimed scholar Jeremy Commons.  

Nominated for the International Opera Awards 2014. 

Awarded 'Album of the Week' by Hugh Canning - Sunday Times Culture, October 2013. 

Hear an extract from the recording on Opera Rara's YouTube page

Visit our news page for further details

Nicola Alaimo (Belisario), Joyce El-Khoury (Antonina), Camilla Roberts (Irene), Alastair Miles (Giustiniano), Peter Hoare (Eutropio), Russell Thomas (Alamiro), Julia Sporsén (Eudora), Darren Jeffery (Centurion), Edward Price (Eusebio), Michael Bundy (Ottario), BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Mark Elder - conductor


SCENE I A large courtyard in the royal palace of Byzantium, with a throne to one side. A colonnade at the rear of the stage commands a view of the city beyond. Senators and populace are gathering to celebrate the triumph of the general Belisario, returning victorious from his campaigns in the Italian peninsular. His daughter Irene is among the foremost who are assembling to greet him, and she hastens to join the growing crowd outside. Her mother Antonina, on the other hand, shows no such eagerness. Entering with Eutropio, the head of the imperial guards and a man ambitious to become her paramour, she reveals her conviction that Belisario was responsible, many years earlier, for the death of their infant son, Alessi. In Belisario’s recent absence, one of his slaves, Proclo, has made a dying confession that his master had, when Alessi was an infant, ordered him to murder him. He had consequently carried the child forth from the city, but, unable to strike the blow, had abandoned him upon the seashore, there to perish or survive as fate should decree. Convinced that Alessi has long since perished, and now with this damning evidence to lay at Belisario’s door, Antonina has been plotting with Eutropio to encompass her husband’s destruction. Together they have had prepared forged documents which will incriminate him, showing him guilty of treason against the Emperor, Giustiniano. At Eutropio’s urging that she keep up appearances, Antonina, too, goes to join the crowds outside. Accompanied by his imperial guards, the Emperor Giustiniano enters and mounts the throne. The Triumph of Belisario takes place, with the general himself appearing crowned with laurels and wearing a purple mantle over his golden armour. He descends from his chariot and presents his trophies to Giustiniano, but pleads for the lives of his captives. Giustiniano acquiesces, placing their fate in his hands. As all disperse, Belisario sets his prisoners free. One, however, declines to depart: Alamiro, a young warrior who states that, if he were to be separated from Belisario, life would hold no meaning for him. Each, in fact, feels strongly attracted to the other, and since Alamiro declares that he is of Greek origin, Belisario invites him to enter his household, there to take the place of his long-lost son. Belisario is now joined by Irene and Antonina, but their reunion is very soon interrupted by Eutropio who comes demanding in the name of the Emperor that Belisario relinquish his sword. There is general consternation, but Belisario obeys, surrendering his weapon not to Eutropio but to a man he says he can respect as a warrior – Alamiro. Disarmed, he is led away by Eutropio and the guards.

SCENE II. The Hall of the Senate. The Senators gather, wondering why they have been so hastily summoned. Giustiniano informs them that Belisario has been accused of a horrendous crime. Eutropio proceeds to narrate how, upon this very evening, it had been intended that the victorious troops should rise in rebellion, assassinating Giustiniano and proclaiming Belisario emperor in his place. Belisario vigorously denies the existence of any such plot, but is at a loss for an explanation when Eutropio produces the letters he had written home to Antonina, but now with treasonable sentences added in a handwriting imitated from – and identical with – his own. Far from supporting her husband, Antonina declares that the letters are exactly as she had received them, and then, when taxed by Belisario with betraying all her natural duties and sentiments as a wife, produces her trump card: the accusation that Belisario had organised the murder of Alessi. In his own defence, Belisario can only state that he had had a horrific dream in which he saw that Alessi, if he lived, would one day be responsible for shaking the Greek Empire to its foundations. He had therefore acted – against all his fatherly impulses – to protect his country. This defence is of no avail in the face of Antonina’s vehemence, and Belisario, condemned by all except Irene and Alamiro, is led away to prison.


SCENE I A remote part of Byzantium, at the entrance to the prisons. Alamiro has received news that Belisario’s death sentence has been commuted to one of perpetual exile, but, as the grieving army veterans hasten to inform him, he has not yet heard of how Eutropio, twisting to his own advantage a statement made by Giustiniano that he never wishes Belisario to set eyes on him again, has had the hero’s eyes put out. Irene appears. Aware of this terrible news, she has come to act as Belisario’s companion and guide in his exile. Alamiro solemnly curses Byzantium and takes his leave, clearly intending to join the hostile barbarian tribes of the Alani and the Bulgars who are threatening to descend upon the city. The gates of the prison open, and Eusebio, the warden, delivers the maimed Belisario, his eyes bandaged, into Irene’s keeping. Belisario is at first unaware of the identity of his guide, and asks her to go to his home and bring his daughter to him that he may take a last farewell of her. At this Irene is unable to maintain her silence any longer, and confesses that she is that very daughter. After a joyful though tearful reunion, they set out together, escorted by guards as far as the city limits.


SCENE I A desert landscape, with the high mountain chain of the Emo in the background. Irene and Belisario appear, both exhausted from their endless walking, but Belisario at least with his eye sockets no longer bandaged. As they take a short rest, a distant calling of trumpets is heard, and Irene, climbing a rock, perceives that a column of armed men is advancing upon them. She persuades Belisario to take shelter in a shallow cave. The army of the Alani and the Bulgars enters, under the command of Alamiro, Ottario and others. They expect imminently to join battle with the Greeks, and Alamiro encourages them by declaring that, as soon as they raise the cry of ‘Belisario’, all the latter’s veterans will desert to their side. At this Belisario steps forward, ordering them to halt. He rebukes Alamiro, declaring that he belies his claim to be a Greek. Alamiro’s response is not merely to repeat his story of being abandoned on the seashore as a child and of being brought up by the barbarian sailor who came across him, but, further, to produce a cross and a dagger which were found with him. From inscriptions engraved on these objects it becomes evident that Alamiro is, in fact, Alessi. A joyful reunion takes place between him and his father and sister. A momentary obstacle arises when the barbarians demand that he continue to act as their commander – he had sworn to lead them until Byzantium should be razed to the ground – but Ottario releases him from his oath and all depart, the barbarian army by one path, and Belisario, Alessi and Irene by another. To Ottario’s final remark that they will conquer Greece even without Belisario, Belisario replies that every Greek, fighting for his homeland, will become a Belisario.

SCENE II The tent of Giustiniano. The Emperor, just arrived in the field, declares his intention of joining battle the following morning. His preparations are, however, interrupted by the arrival of Antonina, distraught, dishevilled and conscience-stricken, unable to conceal any longer that she and Eutropio had had Belisario’s letters altered with forged additions and had so secured his condemnation. All she wishes now is to die, but not before she has sought out Belisario and pleaded for his forgiveness. Distant voices are heard, proclaiming victory, and Irene brings news both of the rediscovery of Alessi in Alamiro and of an all-but-miraculous putting to flight of the barbarian army, routed by none other than Belisario himself. All feelings of joy are rapidly dispelled, however, for the shouts of victory are followed by a doleful sound of trumpets and the announcement, by a centurion, that Belisario has been fatally wounded by a dart released by the fleeing barbarians. He is carried in dying, and entrusts his children to the care of Giustiniano. Antonina then approaches to ask his pardon, but before he can either grant her wish or deny her he falls back lifeless. In her despair, she imagines that he has continued to curse her even in this moment of death and now flies to accuse her before the throne of God. Beside herself, she tries to flee, but, finding herself before the corpse, she utters a cry and collapses to the ground.

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