Donizetti's Operas in the Ljubljana Theatre before 1861

  • Jože Sivec

Abstract

Whereas Donizetti's operas are already found in the repertoire of theatres here and there outside Italy towards the end of the 1820's and more and more often after the triumphant success of »Anna Bolena« in 1830, the first perfomance of Donizetti in Ljubljana was only in the autumn of 1838 when on October 13th »L'elisir d'amore« was given in the Ljubljana Theatre, which until 1861 continued to be supported by the Provincial Estates. »Lucia di Lammermoor« followed on January 22nd, 1839. Thus, unlike some other towns, Ljubljana, first came to know Donizetti not from his early works but from two important works of art. It is indeed curious that the name of this master should have taken so many years to appear in our theatrical repertoire. It is true that the Italian companies which usually brought the latest operatic novelties from their own country had not visited Ljubljana since 1824. On the other hand it is known that from the autumn of 1829 onwards Ljubljana had had a series of rich and lively German opera seasons, when the public listened to the works of composers such as Auber, Herold, Bellini, Boieldieu, Meyerbeer and Mercadante. The delay in question is even more surprising since we know that Donizetti's Italian contemporary, V. Bellini, was performed in Ljubljana almost as early as in the great European cultural centres and that our public was on the whole enthusiastic about the contemporary Italian operatic repertoire. Donizetti's late entry into the repertoire of our provincial theatre can be no more than mere chance. Notwithstanding this initial delay the Ljubljana public over the following two decades heard more of Donizetti's works than of any other opera composer's of the period. A survey of the repertoire of the Ljubljana theatre from 1838, the date of the first Donizetti performance, to 1856 when the last new opera appears in the programme, clearly demonstrates that Donizetti's popularity surpassed that of any other composer, for over this period as many as 14 of his operas were performed; apart from the two already mentioned, the list includes: Belisar (premiere 16. II. 1839), Lucrezia Borgia (8. 1. 1840), Antonio Grimaldi (Marino Faliero, 24. 9. 1840), Gemma di Vcrgy (23. 1. 1841), Die Römer in Melitone (Les Martyrs, 18. 11. 1841), Torquato Tasso (10. 5. 1842), Betly (25. 4. 1844), Linda di Chamounix (9. 11. 1850), Die Tochter des Regiments (La Fille du Régiment, 14. 12. 1850), Robert Devereux (1853), Maria di Rohan (4. 10. 1856), Don Sebastian (15. 11. 1856). 63 The operas most frequently performed were Lucia di Lammermoor, Belisar, Lucrezia Borgia and L'elisir d'amore. The Ljubljana premieres of individual operas of Donizetti's from 1838 to 1844 took place almost parallel with those in important European centres. After 1850 there is quite a delay in this respect, presumably owing to a few years' break in the performing of the operas in Ljubljana. Donizetti dominates the opera seasons from 1840/1 to 1856/7 (with the exception of 1855/6) to such an extent that we are justified in calling this period in the history of our theatre the Donizetti era. Among the Donizetti operas produced in the Ljubljana theatre only few are of permanent artistic value. However, we must bear in mind that in the development of Romantic opera a considerable role is played by those works which although not complete artistic triumphs contain individual passages of high artistic value.

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Published
1966-12-01
How to Cite
SivecJ. (1966). Donizetti’s Operas in the Ljubljana Theatre before 1861. Musicological Annual, 2(1), 52-64. https://doi.org/10.4312/mz.2.1.52-64
Section
Articles