- William Ashbrook
Melodramma in a prologue and two acts by Gaetano Donizetti to a libretto by Felice Romani after Victor Hugo’s play Lucrèce Borgia; Milan, Teatro alla Scala, 26 December 1833.
One of the major successes of Donizetti’s career, Lucrezia Borgia reflects Donizetti’s interest in powerful melodramatic tragedy. He was attracted to the subject by the scene in Hugo’s play in which the six coffins of Lucrezia’s victims were suddenly revealed. The Milanese censors refused to allow the inclusion of this episode in the opera; indeed, the subject was at first regarded as so suspect that three years elapsed between the successful opening run at La Scala (with Henriette Méric-Lalande as Lucrezia, Marietta Brambilla as Orsini, Francesco Pedrazzi as Gennaro and Luciano Mariani as Alfonso) and its second production. For a time the work was given under a number of aliases; in one version the action was transferred to a non-Christian country....