Gaetano Donizetti

Caterina Cornaro, opera

    Description by Rita Laurance

    The opera Caterina Cornaro premiered at the Teatro San Carlo of Naples on January 18, 1844. At the opening, the opera was a complete fiasco. Donizetti was unable to oversee the production of his opera due to illness, and the Neapolitan critics were harsh in their judgment of the work. They accused Donizetti of copying himself, and purposely writing bad music to get even with the management of the theater. In later productions, the opera proved to be a success, and was one of the operas to be revived during the bel canto revival of the twentieth century, to critical and popular acclaim. The libretto was written by Giacomo Sacchero, and based on a libretto for a Halévy opera called La reine de Chypre. The opera is comprised of a prologue and two acts. The prologue takes place in Venice, while the rest of the action happens on the island of Cyprus, at a later date. The story is definitely tragic, and ends with the deaths of Lusignano, King of Cyprus, and Gerardo, Queen Caterina's first love. Lusignano is the most fully developed character in the opera. A multi-faceted individual, he shows himself to be noble and true in love and in death both to Caterina and his people. Caterina's fate is one of the more interesting of all of Donizetti's heroines. Many of his women have exceedingly tragic ends, but Caterina lives at the end of the opera, and becomes the sole ruler of Cyprus.

    The score contains much beautiful music and some of Donizetti's most adventurous and expressive harmonic writing. The scenes of violence are extremely musically interesting, and give the opera its dark character. The chorus "Sangue ci Vuole!" or "We want blood," literally, which is sung during a mob revolt, is filled with dissonance and strong, vigorous writing. Other highlights include a friendship duet between Gerardo and Lusignano. Friendship duets, in which two male protagonists formerly at odds vow to live as brothers, was a favorite ensemble type of Italian audiences. The romanza for Lusignano "Ah! Non turbati" helps develop his character, and the scene of insurrection at the opening of the second act leads to the opera's violent conclusion.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Preludio
    2. Salve, o beati, al giubilo di puro amor promessi
    3. Tu l'amor mio, tu l'iride
    4. Il sacro rito a compiere volgiamo
    5. Concertato. Sprezza, o padre, e fede e onore
    6. Or che l'astro in mar si cela
    7. Torna all'ospite tetto, o gondoliere
    8. Vieni, o tu, che ognora io chiamo
    9. Cabaletta. Ah! Vieni t'affretta mio dolce tesoro
    10. Ohimé! Qui ancor, padre mio?
    11. Spera in me
    12. Introduzione e recitativo. Sei bella, o Cipro!
    13. Credi che dorma, o incauto
    14. Lasciami, o cavalier
    15. Da che sposa Caterina
    16. Core, e pugnale
    17. Grazie, o generoso
    18. Vedi: io piango
    19. Seguito. Che qui non batte un core ingrato
    20. Gemmata il serto, giovine regina
    21. Guarda, s'avanza il Re
    22. Cavatina. Non turbarti a questi accenti
    23. Oh, Caterina
    24. Da quel dì che lacerato
    25. Seguito. T'amo ancor e t'amo tanto
    26. Parti!... Un mistero tremendo odi pria
    27. Finale. Indietro! Io, vil carnefice
    28. Seguito. Olà!... Gran Re, la collera vendicatrice è tarda
    29. Misera patria!
    30. Io trar non voglio campi ed onori
    31. Cabaletta. Morte, morte!
    32. Oh ciel! Che tumulto!
    33. Dolorosa incertezza!
    34. Pietà, o Signor
    35. Vittoria! Vittoria!
    36. Finale. Non più affanni, mie genti

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2013
    Opera Rara
    ORC 48
    2008
    Myto Devotion / Myto Records
    2MDCD 0005
    2007
    BRV
    9909
    2006
    Bongiovanni
    2410/11
    2002
    Opera D'Oro
    5007
    2001
    Opera D'Oro
    1266
    2001
    Opera D'Oro
    E
    1995
    Myto Records
    92153
    On Stage!
    4701
    Memories
    4448