“Joyce El-Khoury, as Antonina, Belisario’s wife, is a formidable talent whose open-toned voice allied to vocal sensitivity and characterisation is too rare these......
Belisario is, quite simply, one of Donizetti’s finest achievements. Dating from the high watermark of Donizetti’s maturity, with its premiere in 1836 (the year after the debut of Maria Stuarda in Milan and Lucia di Lammermoor in Naples), Belisario proved a triumph on stages throughout the 19th century. Yet, incredibly, it is little known today. The libretto, by Salvadore Cammarano (who collaborated with Donizetti on Lucia di Lammermoor), tells the moving and typically complicated story of the 6th century Byzantine general. Falsely accused by his wife, Antonina, of killing their son, he was blinded and exiled as his punishment. Only the recognition by his daughter, Irene, that her father’s former captive, Alamiro, was her long-lost brother restores Belisario’s reputation; tragically, too late to save his life.
Opera Rara’s Artistic Director, and one of today’s most celebrated conductors, Sir Mark Elder, conducts this neglected masterpiece in a studio recording, directing the choral and orchestral forces of the BBC Singers and BBC Symphony Orchestra and the stunning cast is headed by young Sicilian baritone Nicola Alaimo (Belisario). Rising Canadian star soprano, Joyce El-Khoury, makes her recording debut as Antonina, American tenor Russell Thomas is Alamiro, Welsh soprano Camilla Roberts is Irene and the role of Emperor Giustiniano is sung by the esteemed bass Alastair Miles.
Opera Rara’s studio recording comes with a lavishly illustrated booklet with detailed article and libretto translation by acclaimed scholar Jeremy Commons.