Around his birth date (29 November), Bergamo will once again become the capital of Donizetti’s music thanks to a new edition of the Donizetti Opera Festival. Three operas and some great international artists embarking on a new adventure under the name of Donizetti.

Il Borgomastro di Saardam is the title of the opera opening the festival at the Teatro Sociale on Friday 24 November 2017, at 8.30pm, with shows running also on 26 November at 3.30pm and on 2 December at 8.30pm. This buffo opera, written in the summer of 1827, shows us a young Donizetti who is already an expert creator of simple but effective theatre plots. The story celebrates the generosity of Tsar Peter the Great towards Flimann who, granted an important title, marries hi beloved Marietta. The libretto, written by Domenico Gilardoni, follows the Italian tradition of opera buffa, where Donizetti writes thrilling music with some ingenuous parts that deviate from Rossini’s typical musical writing that ruling at the time. And precisely in those small deviations from Rossini’s famous and celebrated scores rested Donizetti’s chances to build his own prominent place within Nineteenth century’s Italian operatic panorama, so full of impresarios of sometimes dubious reputation, and capricious and very dangerous prima donnas. Thus Donizetti, on the introduction to the Borgomastro di Saardam, introduces a pulsating bolero rhythm, and in the trio of Act one he includes a miraculous melody played by the violins, sweeping and lyrical, which was to become one of his most appreciated traits. The score has many other gems that we leave the audience to discover.

Also Mayr’s Che Originali! and Donizetti’s Pigmalione will be playing at the Teatro Sociale, on Saturday 25 November, with shows running also on Friday 1 December at 8.30pm and Sunday 3 December at 3.30pm. Mayr wrote his musical farce Che originali! in 1798 on a libretto by Gaetano Rossi. Mayr’s farce pillories Eighteenth century’s Enlightenment and mocks Metastasio, doing so with a new, brilliant, open and free music. The French Revolution had spread its effects also on the cultural production, which became more critical about the past and supported new ideas, indeed “original”! On the same night, next to Mayr’s work,  Pigmalione, written by Donizetti in 1816. This one act “lyric scene”, as the composer himself described it, is the only case of mythological theatre in Donizetti. A very significant episode adds importance on this score: Donizetti was at the time studying in Bologna and, in September 1816, Mayr was visiting him. It was this meeting that brought to the writing of this one act opera, as a sort of tribute to the master by his pupil. Pigmalione offers a chance to begin a new analysis of Donizetti’s complete production by presenting every year at the festival one of his operas that’s turning 200 years old. 

Il Borgomastro di Saardam, Che originali! and Pigmalione: three titles for the 2017 Donizetti Opera Festival. One of Donizetti’s important operas, one farce written by his teacher, and the very first opera written by our composer from Bergamo. A structured musical program highlighted by internationally renowned artists, bringing our audience closer to Donizetti and to rediscover his genius.

Francesco Micheli
Artistic Director of the Fondazione Donizetti