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Maria di Rohan

Maria di Rohan

Gaetano Donizetti

2 disc set

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According to the late Donizetti expert William Ashbrook, Maria di Rohan (1843) is the composer‘s ‘tautest, most melodramatic opera’ and shows him ‘in complete control of his musico-dramatic... read more

Song title Time Format Price
playstop01 Maria di Rohan: Act I: Sinfonia02:51
playstop02 Maria di Rohan: Act I: Sinfonia: Allegro - Introduction 06:58
playstop03 Maria di Rohan: Act I scena I: Ed e ver? 03:02
playstop04 Maria di Rohan: Act I scena II: Cavatina: Non seguite la caccia 00:40
playstop05 Maria di Rohan: Act I scena II: Quando il cor da lei piagato 02:47
playstop06 Maria di Rohan: Act I scena III: Cavatina: Conte! 02:43
playstop07 Maria di Rohan: Act I scena III: Cavatina: Cupa fatal mestizia 02:40
playstop08 Maria di Rohan: Act I scena IV: Cavatina: Contessa! In tanto giubilo 04:23
playstop09 Maria di Rohan: Act I scena V: Finale: Cavalieri! - scena VI: Amici ? 08:23
playstop10 Maria di Rohan: Act I scena VI: Ma che! turbato sei? 00:44
playstop11 Maria di Rohan: Act I scena VII: Le dance 03:54
playstop12 Maria di Rohan: Act I scena VIII: Conte! 03:00
playstop13 Maria di Rohan: Act II scena I: Nel fragor della festa, ahi! 08:58
playstop14 Maria di Rohan: Act II scena II: Finale: Donna, che il volto d'una larva cinge - scena III: Maria! 02:04
playstop15 Maria di Rohan: Act II scena IV: Ch'ei dorma? 05:39
playstop16 Maria di Rohan: Act II scena V: Sedete ? - scena VI: Conte! 08:46
playstop17 Maria di Rohan: Act III scena I: Prelude - Ti rassicura! ? - scena II: Aubry! - scena III: Per questa occulta via presso alle mura 05:28
playstop18 Maria di Rohan: Act III scena III: Havvi un Dio che in sua clemenza 03:14
playstop19 Maria di Rohan: Act III scena IV: Aria: Parti: brev'ora, ed egli fia lontano - scena V: Spera il Ministroo 03:14
playstop20 Maria di Rohan: Act III scena V: Aria: Bella e di sol vestita 02:44
playstop21 Maria di Rohan: Act III scena VI: Aria: Ebben? 04:18
playstop22 Maria di Rohan: Act III scena VII: Al supplizio fui tratta 07:39
playstop23 Maria di Rohan: Act III scena VIII: Finale: [Ah! ?] - scena IX: Duca, ah Duca - scena X: Ove si cela il perfido 04:36
playstop24 Maria di Rohan: Appendix: Per non istrare in ozio 03:28
playstop25 Maria di Rohan: Appendix: Lascia 04:09
playstop26 Maria di Rohan: Appendix: Se non cedi 03:49
playstop27 Maria di Rohan: Appendix: Ah cosi tanto affetto 05:19
playstop28 Maria di Rohan: Appendix: Non seguite la caccia 03:57

According to the late Donizetti expert William Ashbrook, Maria di Rohan (1843) is the composer‘s ‘tautest, most melodramatic opera’ and shows him ‘in complete control of his musico-dramatic goals’. The tragic melodrama, composed in 1843, was one of the last operas written by Donizetti (he had notched up an impressive 62 by then). First performed in Vienna, Donizetti revised it for its Paris premiere, changing the tenor role of Armando di Gondì to mezzo-soprano. Working from the new critical edition of the score, Opera Rara has recorded the original Vienna (June 1843) two tenor version as well as some of the appendices from the Paris (November 1843) revision, including those written for the mezzo-soprano, sung here by Enkelejda Shkosa. Set during the time of Cardinal Richelieu, the opera focuses on Maria (Krassimira Stoyanova), secretly married to Riccardo, Duke of Chevreuse (José Bros), who has wounded the Cardinal’s nephew in a duel. In seeking assistance for his plight from Enrico, Count of Chalais (Christopher Purves), Maria finds her former love for the latter revived. The rest of the opera centres on how this intricate and explosive triangle of relationships plays out. As a handful of recent productions have demonstrated, the result shows Donizetti rightly claiming his position as one of the nineteenth-century’s greatest musical dramatists. The project marks Opera Rara’s second collaboration with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; the orchestra, choir and stellar cast are conducted by Opera Rara Artistic Director, Sir Mark Elder, bringing his customary musical intelligence and wealth of experience to this repertoire.

Booklet includes complete libretto with English translation.

José Bros (Riccardo), Christopher Purves (Enrico), Krassimira Stoyanova (Maria), Graeme Broadbent (Il Visconte di Suze), Loïc Félix (Armando di Gondì), Brindley Sherratt (De Fieque), Christopher Turner (Aubry), Riccardo Simonetti (Un famigliare di Chevreuse), Enkelejda Skhosa (Armondo di Gondì – appendix items), Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Sir Mark Elder – conductor

ACT ONE.  The royal palace of the Louvre, in the reign of Louis XIII and during the ascendancy of the Cardinal de Richelieu as First Minister.  It is night time.  Courtiers comment that Richelieu’s star appears to be on the wane, and that the court, which has hitherto been a place of gloom and fear, appears to be on the eve of some great festivity.  (We learn later that the festivity is being mounted by the King to celebrate his mother’s birthday.)

Riccardo, Count of Chalais, appears.  After a long period of silence, he has received a note from the woman he loves, Maria, Countess of Rohan, a member of the Queen’s household, asking him to meet with her urgently.  He does so, and she informs him that her relative, Enrico, Duke of Chevreuse, was some time since challenged to a duel by a hot-headed nephew of Richelieu, and killed him in the encounter.  Now, in consequence, he has become the victim of a law forbidding duelling, and has been condemned to death.  She beseeches Chalais, since he is high in the King’s favour, to intercede on his behalf: only he can save his life, but he must act swiftly since the scaffold is to be erected the following morning.  Though he suspects that he may be interceding on behalf of a rival, Chalais promises to exert such influence as he can, and enters the King’s apartments to carry out his mission.

Left alone, Maria reveals that Chevreuse is by no means simply Chalais’ rival: for the past year they have secretly been married.  The courtiers take her to task for her downcast spirits, but when an usher brings her a paper which she discovers to be Chevreuse’s pardon, she visibly rejoices and is scarcely able to contain her sense of relief.

Following her retirement to the Queen’s apartments, a young courtier by the name of Armando di Gondì enters, braving the King’s displeasure by appearing at court – and Richelieu’s vengeance, since he acted as Chevreuse’s second in the fatal encounter.  He has no qualms, however, for he believes Richelieu’s fall to be imminent and inevitable.  He is also contemptuous of the Cardinal since he considers him his rival: he has been assiduously but vainly paying court to a woman, only to see her entering Richelieu’s hôtel thrice in a single day.  Asked her identity, he names Maria, Countess of Rohan.  Chalais, who has returned in time to hear this, is deeply offended that the name of the woman he loves should be bandied about with such levity, and immediately challenges Gondì to a duel.  Gondì accepts, but further parley is interrupted by the appearance of Chevreuse, just released from custody.  He greets Chalais as his liberator, and, hearing of the impending duel, offers to act as one of his seconds.  The location of the encounter is fixed for the Tour de Nesle at dawn the following day.

Maria brings news that Richelieu’s fall from grace is now a fait accompli – she has just received the news from the Queen herself.  It is now Chevreuse’s turn to make a momentous announcement.  He tells everyone that he has been married for a year, but has been keeping the marriage secret for fear that Richelieu, who had intended his chosen bride as the wife of his own ill-fated nephew, might seek to wage a private vendetta against him.  The courtiers ask the identity of his wife, and he presents Maria to them.  While all hasten to express their felicitations, Chalais is understandably shattered, and Maria herself dismayed at the pain she has inevitably caused him.

At this point it is announced that the King has appointed Chalais his First Minister in Richelieu’s place, and desires his immediate attendance.  All gather around to congratulate him, and the act ends in rejoicing as the entire court prepares to attend the King’s festivity in his mother’s honour.  Only Chalais and Maria are unable to enter wholeheartedly into the mood of celebration.

ACT TWO.  A room in Chalais’ hôtel where, summoned home from the festivity by a call to attend his dying mother, he is writing a letter.  He places it in a secret drawer in his desk, and instructs his secretary, Aubry, should he fail to return by dusk the following day, to force open the drawer and deliver the letter.  He will find the name of the intended recipient inscribed upon it.  (In lines that Donizetti did not set, he also gives Aubry a second letter, addressed to the King, in which he declines the position of First Minister since he realises that he is about to stain his reputation by fighting a duel.)   He then fetches two pistols which he lays upon his desk.  He listens intently for a moment outside his mother’s door, and expresses the thought that they may both re-meet in Heaven sooner than either of them had imagined.

Aubry informs him that a cloaked and masked lady wishes to see him.  Admitted, she throws off her mask and reveals herself as Maria.  She has come, she tells him, to warn him that he must flee: Richelieu has succeeded in reinstating himself in the King’s good graces, so that he – Chalais – is now in eclipse and in danger of his life.

At this point they are interrupted by the voice of Chevreuse, calling from outside.  Maria is seized with alarm lest she be discovered, and Chalais hastily conceals her in a small side-room which serves as his armoury.

Chevreuse has come to accompany Chalais to the duel.  He objects, however, to a small ornamental sword which he sees lying on a table, and approaches the armoury to seek a more suitable weapon.  Chalais in alarm stands in his way, and Chevreuse, seeing Maria’s mask, realises that he has interrupted an assignation.  He declares that he has no wish to pry into his friend’s private affairs, and, urging all possible haste, takes his leave, saying that he will precede him to the Tour de Nesle.

It is, understandably, a terrified Maria who emerges from the armoury.  She has overheard everything, and pleads with Chalais to flee from Paris rather than fight the duel and face both the King’s displeasure and Richelieu’s persecution and revenge.  Chalais remains adamant that his honour requires him to fight, and, as the Louvre clock strikes five, prepares to leave.  Maria urges that his death, should he be killed, could very possibly precipitate his mother’s demise.  He is about to yield to her pleading when loud knocking is heard outside, and the Viscount of Suze, his other second, calls to him, informing him that the hour fixed for the duel has passed, and that Chevreuse is preparing to fight in his place. 

His sense of honour reawakened, he seizes his pistols and races out.

ACT THREE.  A hall in Chevreuse’s hôtel.  The duel has taken place, fought, as a result of Chalais’ tardy arrival, by Chevreuse.  Gondì has been slain, and Chevreuse wounded in the arm.  He assures Maria and Chalais that the injury is slight, and that his sole present concern is to secure his friend’s safety by smuggling him out of Paris.

While he goes out to organise arrangements, Chalais receives a visit from an extremely concerned Aubry, who informs him that a detachment of archers has broken into his hôtel and discovered and confiscated all his carefully concealed papers.  Chalais realises that the letter he had addressed to Maria – to all intents and purposes a compromising love-letter – will now be in Richelieu’s hands, and that Richelieu will have no hesitation in forwarding it to Chevreuse.  A horrified Maria exclaims that Chevreuse will certainly kill her.  Chalais urges that, when he has made his escape, she should join him outside the city.  He promises to deliver her into the protection of her brother.

Chevreuse reappears through a secret door, urging Chalais to accept this as his one sure way to safety: the door gives access to a passage which will lead him beyond the city walls where a horse awaits him.  Chalais, in a final private word to Maria, insists that if she does not join him within the hour, he will return to die with her.

Maria, left alone, reveals that she married Chevreuse only under pressure from her now-dead mother, for she has always been in love with Chalais.  She prays to her mother to intercede with God on her behalf: only thus can she be saved from a bitter and violent death.

Chevreuse, who has escorted Chalais to safety, returns, but his attempts to calm Maria are cut short when a servant announces that the Captain of the Archers, Fiesque, wishes to see him.  A confused and fearful Maria takes her leave in response to a summons from the Queen, and Fiesque, expressing his hope that Chevreuse will reveal Chalais’ whereabouts, delivers the fatal letter.  It contains a miniature portrait, and to his consternation Chevreuse recognises Maria’s likeness.  Fiesque again presses him to reveals Chalais’ whereabouts, but receives the reply that – unfortunately – he has made his escape.  Chevreuse orders a servant to overtake Maria and summon her back, but Fiesque sardonically replies that she is still in the hôtel – he had already given orders that no one should be allowed to depart.

Chevreuse confronts a terrified Maria.  He plays with her as a cat plays with a mouse, rehearsing to her the duties of a wife to her husband, and stressing that the only true penalty for infidelity is death.  An increasingly demoralised Maria notes that his wound has begun to bleed afresh, and then, as the clock strikes the hour, she utters a cry and involunarily turns towards the secret door.  In a flash Chevreuse realises that she is expecting or fearing that Chalais may return.

The door opens and Chalais reappears, ready and willing to die.  He draws a dagger and tries to commit suicide, but Chevreuse prevents him from doing so, claiming that his life is forfeit to him and him alone.

The servant announces that the archers have returned and are clamouring for admission.  Chevreuse orders that they be held back for as long as possible.  Then, thrusting one of two pistols into Chalais’ hand and seizing the other himself, he drags his victim, half willing and half protesting, out through the secret door.

Maria faints, but recovers and leaps to her feet as a pistol shot rings out.  As the archers break down the door, Chevreuse returns, stating that Chalais, rather than face the executioner, has taken his own life.  The archers race out to view the body, and the opera ends as Chevreuse turns to Maria with the celebrated lines: ‘Death to him; life with infamy to you, faithless woman!’

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