Gioachino Rossini

La donna del lago (The Lady of the Lake), opera

    Description by Anne Feeney

    This lovely Rossini opera seria is sometimes known as "the other Scott opera," as it, like Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor is based on a work by Sir Walter Scott. (Of course, there are operas based on other Scott novels, such as Sullivan's Ivanhoe, but they are generally quite obscure.) While this opera is probably best known for Malcolm's bravura "Mura felice," it overflows with stirring ensembles and striking arias and duets. Rather like Donizetti's Lucia, the opera, while set in Scotland, could take place almost anywhere, and does not use any particularly Scottish musical references or themes, though the harp-accompanied "Gia un raggio" in which the bards exhort the warriors does add a touch of Celtic authenticity.

    The donna del lago (lady of the lake) is Elena (soprano), daughter of Douglas, a Highland nobleman. She and Malcolm (a mezzo role) are in love, but Douglas has promised Elena to Rodrigo (tenor), who, like Malcolm and Douglas, is a leader of the rebellion against the king. The king, also a tenor, appears in disguise as Uberto and falls in love with Elena himself. Accepting her rejection, he gives her a ring which he says will bring her the king's help at any time she, or her lover or father, may need it. The rebellion is defeated, but Elena brings the ring to the court to ask for the king's pardon for her father and Malcolm (Rodrigo has been killed in a duel), and is astonished to find that Uberto is the king. He reunites Elena with her father and lover and they praise his clemency.

    The opera is, rather like Rossini's Otello, noteworthy for the way in which the soprano's music is full of pathos and vulnerability, in stark contrast to the aggressive vocal fireworks of the male characters who surround her. The ensemble which closes the first act is also remarkable for its length, despite which the listener is kept engaged by the musical contrasts and continuing excitement. (Rossini, with his deep sense of humor, must have relished the dramatic effects of just about everybody in Scotland showing up and joining in the ensemble.)

    Parts/Movements

    1. Overture
    2. O, mattutini albori
    3. Qual suon!
    4. Uberto! Ah! Dove t'ascondi?
    5. Sei già nel tetto mio
    6. D'Inibaca Donzella
    7. Sei già sposa?
    8. Quali accenti
    9. Ma son sorpreso
    10. Mura felici
    11. Elena! o tu, che chiamo!
    12. O quante lacrime
    13. Figlia, è cosi
    14. Taci, Io voglio
    15. E nel fatal conflitto
    16. Vivere io non potrò
    17. Qual rapido torrente
    18. Eccomi a voi
    19. Ma dov'è colei
    20. Se a'miei voti
    21. Alfin mi è dato
    22. Vieni, o stella
    23. Quanto a quest'alma
    24. La mia spada
    25. Quest'amplesso
    26. Crudele sospetto
    27. Sul colle a Morve
    28. Già un raggio
    29. Su... amici!
    30. O fiamma soave
    31. Va, non temer
    32. Alla ragion deh rieda
    33. Numi, se a'miei sospiri
    34. Vincesti!... Addio!
    35. Qual pena in me
    36. Parla... che sei?
    37. Io son la misera
    38. Quante sciagure
    39. Ah! Si pera
    40. Douglas! Douglas! Ti salva!
    41. Che sento!
    42. Attendi: Il Re fra poco
    43. Che sento! Qual soave armonia!
    44. Stelle! Sembra egli stesso!
    45. Eccolo! Amica sorte
    46. Impogna il Re
    47. Ah! Che vedo!
    48. Tanti affetti
    49. Fra il padre

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2009 Decca 4780326
    2008 Urania 22364
    2008 Opera D'Oro 7053
    2008 Naxos 8660235-36
    2007 Opera Rara 34
    2004 Ponto 1016
    2002 Grand Tier 14/96
    2002 Philips 473307
    1999 Opera D'Oro 1206
    Melodram 27074
    Standing Room Only 803
    Myto Records 89012
    Foyer Records 2028
    CBS Records 39311