The role of Elisabetta is a notoriously difficult part for even the most seasoned of sopranos. In the hands of Joyce El-Khoury it appears both effortless and truly dazzling. Her commitment to the role is total, at points even exhausting in its emotional intensity, and her fluent coloratura and masterful control are joyous. In an otherwise strong libretto by Salvadore Cammerano, Elisabetta is – oddly – drawn rather thinly, appearing as a two-dimensional spurned lover on the page. On the stage, however, El-Khoury gives her depth and a very human sense of vulnerability. Her final aria, “Vivi, in grato, a lei accanto” delivered upon her throne as her mental and physical capacities weaken, provides a counterpoint to the anguished, vengeful queen that dominates the majority of the opera. The moment in it the where El-Khoury drops to an almost imperceptible pianissimo after two hours of muscular bel canto is one of aching fragility that elevates Elisabetta from mere cliche.