Donizetti: La Favorite
Simeoni, Veronica; Albelo, Celso; Amati, Manuel; Longari, Francesca; Olivieri, Mattia; Guagliardo, Ugo; Luisi, Fabio; Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino; Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Gaetano Donizetti's La Favorite was rather laborious in the making: it started out as a re-working of L'Ange de Nisida, to which the composer added parts taken from some other operas of his. The work, which was premiered at the Opéra of Paris, is set in 14th-century Castile and tells the story of the hapless love between Fernand, who has second thoughts about taking holy orders and leaves the monastery of Santiago de Compostela, and Leonor, the mistress of king Alphonse XI. It is an intimate drama, where history and politics are but the backdrop to the protagonists' passions and torments. Fabio Luisi's conducting is both measured in balancing the orchestral sounds, and personal, varied and vigorous. The orchestra is crystal-clear, neat in its accompaniment, neither subject to the voices nor prevaricating. Veronica Simeoni (Leonor), Celso Albelo (Fernand) and Mattia Olivieri (Alphonse) give excellent vocal and acting performances.