Le duc d'Albe
Le duc d'Albe or Il duca d'Alba (The Duke of Alba) is an opera in three acts originally composed by Gaetano Donizetti in 1839 to a French language libretto by Eugène Scribe and Charles Duveyrier. The score, left unfinished by Donizetti, was completed by his former pupil Matteo Salvi and the opera received its first performance at the Teatro Apollo in Rome on 22 March 1882, nearly 34 years after Donizetti's death.
The opera had been originally commissioned for the Paris Opéra in 1839, and Donizetti worked on it throughout most of that year. However, he abandoned the project with only the first two acts completed, plus notes for the melodies and bass lines for acts 3 and 4. The opera remained unfinished at the time of his death in 1848.
In 1855, Scribe and Duveyrier's libretto was transferred to Verdi's opera Les vêpres siciliennes, with the setting changed from the Spanish occupation of Flanders in 1573 to the French occupation of Sicily in 1282.
In 1881 Matteo Salvi, a former pupil of Donizetti's, completed the opera from Donizetti's notes with the help of Amilcare Ponchielli, Antonio Bazzini and Cesare Domeniceti. Angelo Zanardini translated Scribe's libretto from the original French into Italian, and the names of the two lovers, 'Henri' and 'Hélène', which by that time had been used in Les vêpres siciliennes were changed to 'Marcello' and 'Amelia'. When Donizetti abandoned the opera, he re-cycled the famous tenor aria, 'Ange si pur' ( 'Spirto gentil' in the Italian version) for his 1840 opera La favorite. For the premiere, Salvi composed a replacement aria, 'Angelo casto e bel'. He also added recitatives and combined Acts III and IV into a single final act.
The opera received its first performance in 1882 as Il duca d'Alba with Leone Giraldoni in the title role, Abigaille Bruschi Chiatti as Amelia di Egmont, and Julián Gayarre as Marcello.
The opera has only been rarely performed since 1882.
However, there was a major revival of the Italian version at the 1959 Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, after conductor Thomas Schippers discovered the score, reworked it by removing most of Salvi's additions and reconstructing the final acts himself from Donizetti's notes. Schippers also returned 'Spirto Gentil' to its original place in the opera. The Spoleto production was directed by Luchino Visconti who used restored sets from the 1882 premiere.
Schippers presented the United States premiere of the work later that year under the umbrella of the American Opera Society at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia on 15 October 1959. The Schippers version with the Visconti production was revived at the 1992 Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina.
In October 1982 Opera Orchestra of New York gave a concert performance of a version of the opera with Matteo Manuguerra in the title role.  It was recorded, as was a 2007 concert performance given by the Orchestra national de Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon.
In May 2012 Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp and Ghent presented the first performances of the original French opera in a four-act version completed with additional music by Giorgio Battistelli; the conductor was Paolo Carignani.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast, 22 March 1882
(Conductor: Marino Mancinelli)
|Il duca d’Alba, Governor of Flanders for King Philip II of Spain||baritone||Leone Giraldoni|
|Amelia di Egmont||soprano||Abigaille Bruschi Chiatti|
|Marcello di Bruges, a Flemish patriot and Amelia's lover||tenor||Julián Gayarre|
|Sandoval, Captain of the Spanish troops||baritone||Hjalmar Frey|
|Carlo, a Spanish officer||tenor||Giovanni Paroli|
|Daniele Brauer, a Flemish patriot||baritone||Alessandro Silvestri|
|Il taverniere, a beer seller||bass||Romeo Sartori|
The Duke of Alba has been sent to Flanders to suppress the rebellion against Spanish rule. Shortly before the action begins, Amelia's father Egmont, a Flemish hero, had been executed by the Duke and she is now determined to assassinate him. The Duke discovers that his long-lost son Marcello, Amelia's lover, is now the leader of the rebellion. The Duke arrests him when he refuses to join the Spanish army.
When Marcello is freed from prison, he appeals to the Duke to spare his co-conspirators and Amelia, all of whom have been arrested in Daniele Bauer's tavern. The Duke reveals to Marcello that he is his father. In exchange for his friends' freedom, Marcello kneels before the Duke and acknowledges him as his father.
Marcello confesses to Amelia that he is the Duke's son. She asks him to kill the Duke as proof of his love for her. Torn between his father and the woman he loves, Marcello hesitates. Later at the port of Antwerp, Amelia, disguised as a man, takes matters into her own hands and attempts to stab the Duke to death. Marcello throws himself on the Duke to shield him and is unwittingly killed by Amelia.
All recordings sung in the Italian version of Angelo Zanardini, Rome 1882.
(Il duca d'Alba,
Marcello di Bruges,
Amelia di Egmont)
Opera House and Orchestra
Orchestra sinfonica della RAI di Roma
|Audio CD: Bongiovanni Historical Opera Collection
Trieste Philharmonic Orchestra and Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi Chorus
|Audio CD: Opera D'Oro
Opera Orchestra of New York and Schola Cantorum of New York
(Recording of a concert performance in the Carnegie Hall, New York, 28 October)
|Audio CD: Omega Opera Archive
Arturo Chacon Cruz,
Orchestra National de Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon and Latvian Radio Chorus
(Recording of a concert performance)
|Audio CD: Accord
- Rothstein, E., 1992
- Rockwell, J., 1982
- Buldrini, Y., 2005
- "In a publisher's warehouse in Milan last fall, Kalamazoo-born Conductor Thomas Schippers discovered an opera score dedicated to Queen Margherita * of Italy and tied up in purple string. In Spoleto last week, at the opening of Gian Carlo Menotti's Festival of Two Worlds, he unwrapped his find before a capacity audience. Italian critics promptly hailed the long-forgotten work as one of the finest creations of Composer Gaetano Donizetti." in "Music: Donizetti Revived", Time Magazine, 22 June 1959. Full article available by subscription. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
- Cast and production details on the OONY website Retrieved 12 May 2012
- Le duc d'Albe: Vlaamse Opera production notes. Accessed 12 May 2012.
- Premiere cast from Casaglia
- Source of recording on operadis-opera-discography.org.uk
- Buldrini, Y. (2005), "Dossier: Il Duca d'Alba", on Forum Opéra, (accessed 17 July 2011)
- Casaglia, Gherardo (22 Marzo 1882), Almanacco Amadeus, 2005. Accessed 11 December 2009 (in Italian).
- Rockwell, J., "Eve Queler leads Alba", The New York Times, 31 October 1982
- Rothstein, E., "A Donizetti Work Is Resurrected, Sets and All", The New York Times, 30 May 1992
- Time magazine, "Donizetti Revived", 22 June 1959
- Ashbrook, William, Donizetti and His Operas, Cambridge University Press, 1982, ISBN 0-521-23526-X ISBN 0-521-23526-X
- Holden, Amanda (Ed.), The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam, 2001. ISBN 0-14-029312-4
- Osborne, Charles, The Bel Canto Operas of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini, Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press, 1994 ISBN 0-931340-71-3
- Parker, Roger,"Donizetti’s Forgotten French Opera: In Search of Le Duc d’Albe" on donizettisociety.com, June 2012 (written in conjunction with the Vlaamse Opera reconstruction performances). Retrieved 6 September 2012.
- Rosenthal, H. and Warrack, J., The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera, 2nd Edition, 1979, Oxford University Press. p. 144
- Weatherson, Alexander, Program Notes: Il Duca d'Alba Festival de Radio France, Montpellier, 2007. (accessed 24 April 2007)
- Weinstock, Herbert, Donizetti and the World of Opera in Italy, Paris, and Vienna in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century, New York: Pantheon Books, 1963. ISBN 63-13703