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  • William Ashbrook


Melodramma in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti to a libretto by Felice Romani after Byron ; Florence, Teatro alla Pergola, 17 March 1833.

The plot, set in the early 15th century, deals with the fatal love between Parisina (soprano; at the première Karoline Unger), wife of Azzo, Duke of Ferrara (baritone; Domenico Cosselli), and Ugo (tenor; Gilbert Duprez), who is eventually revealed to be Azzo’s son by his first wife. Believing himself the son of a minister at the court, Ernesto (bass), Ugo returns without permission from exile to participate in a tourney, which he wins, receiving the victor’s crown from Parisina’s hands. That night Azzo overhears Parisina murmur Ugo’s name in her sleep and believes his jealous suspicions confirmed; furious, he goads her into confessing their love. Determined to avenge his honour, Azzo is not stayed from having Ugo killed by Ernesto’s revelation of the lad’s true paternity. Parisina swoons at the sight of Ugo’s corpse....

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