Marino Faliero (opera)

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Marino Faliero (or Marin Faliero) is a tragedia lirica, or tragic opera, in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Giovanni Emanuele Bidéra wrote the Italian libretto, with revisions by Agostino Ruffini, after Casimir Delavigne's play. It is inspired by Lord Byron's drama Marino Faliero (1820) and based on the life of Marino Faliero (c.1285-1355), the Venetian Doge.[1]

Rossini had influenced the management of the Théâtre-Italien to commission works by the outstanding Italian composers of the day—Donizetti and Vincenzo Bellini. Both wrote operas for that house in Paris, Bellini's contribution being the hugely-successful I puritani. Donizetti's opera, which premiered on 12 March 1835 (a few months after I puritani) was not nearly as much of a success. However, it marked Donizetti's first opera to have its premiere in Paris.

Critical Views[edit]

Marino Faliero suffers from the critical cliché that it wasn't a success in its Paris début run. The other accepted 'problems' are: the soprano lacks primacy and an aria di sortita, the score is mediocre Donizetti, and its eventual historical eclipse proves its lack of intrinsic merit. Perhaps too many critics like Donizetti in a box, as if all his operas must operate in the same way, as if all must compete with Lucia. Marino stresses a baritone, as does later Verdi. Donizetti creates four characters in dramatic equilibrium, as in the plot of Il Trovatore; curiously, writers have accorded Leonora---despite lacking Lucia-like preeminence---an acceptance denied Elena. Marino presented Paris with a score very different from I puritani; these different responses need not be taken as measures of the respective scores' worth as such. While I puritani intoxicates the ear with tonal bouquets, Donizetti's opera is the more difficult work in the best sense, a direct progenitor of Verdi and later opera. One remembers that Violetta's Amami, Alfredo is directly quoted from the opening of Donizetti's Pia de' Tolomei.

• The Paris Premiere: Paris critics at the time of the premiere evinced much admiration. The famous illustrated Paris magazine Le Charivari reported on March 15, 1835: "In sum, Marino Faliero is a beautiful and grand success equal to that of the Puritans by Bellini." Revue du théâtre wrote: "On Thursday Marino Faliero was applauded as it merited, which is to say a great deal, for it is a very remarkable work." L'avant-scène wrote with Puritani-like enthusiasm: "There is no praise precise enough to characterize the feeling that Mademoiselle Grisi causes one to experience in this work: it is beyond marvel, beyond enchantment; there is truly something supernatural and magical in the voice and the spirit of this Diva."

The legendary impresario Alessandro Lanari wrote excitedly from Florence to Donizetti about the first Italian production, at the Teatro Alfieri, 1836: “Furore! Fanatismo! Entusiasmo! Your Marino Faliero was judged to be your masterpiece”.

Performance history[edit]

Marino Faliero was presented in London at Covent Garden on 14 May 1835[2] and at the Teatro Alfieri in Florence in 1836. Its first appearance in the US took place at the St. Charles Theater in New Orleans on 22 February 1842.[2] However, after several prohibitions from September 1839 onward, the opera was not presented until 3 September 1848, the day to which Black notes was the one on which the composer died in Bergamo.[3] After three complete performances, it disappeared from the repertory.[3]


Luigi Lablache in 1827, the first Marino
Antonio Tamburini, the first Israele
Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 12 March 1835
(Conductor: - )
Marin Faliero, the Doge of Venice bass Luigi Lablache
Israele Bertucci, chief of the Venetian Arsenal baritone Antonio Tamburini
Fernando, Faliero's friend and in love with Elena tenor Giovanni Battista Rubini
Steno, member of the Council of Forty bass Vincenzo Felice Santini
Leoni, Member of the Council of Ten tenor
Elena, The Doge's wife soprano Giulia Grisi
Irene, Elena's servant soprano
Vincenzo, the Doge's servant tenor Enrico Tamberlik
Beltrame, a sculptor bass
Pietro, a gondolier bass Nicolay Ivanov
Guido, a fisherman bass
Gentlemen, knights, craftsmen, fishermen, servants, soldiers


Place: Venice
Time: 1355

Elena, the wife of Marin Faliero, Doge of Venice, is continually subjected to attacks on her reputation by the patrician Steno whose advances she has rejected. Steno then insults Israele Bertucci, the chief of the Venetian Arsenal in front of his workers. Steno is punished for these offenses, but Faliero is infuriated by the leniency of the punishment. Israele convinces Faliero to join a conspiracy against the Council of Forty, of which Steno is a member.

Meanwhile, Elena is in love with Faliero's friend Fernando, who wants to leave the city to save her from dishonour. During a masked ball, Fernando challenges Steno to a duel for having insulted Elena once again. When Fernando is found dying in the place where the conspirators were to meet, Faliero vows to avenge his death.

The conspiracy collapses following a betrayal by one of its members and the Doge is condemned to death. Before his execution, Elena confesses her love affair with Fernando to him. Faliero begins to curse her, but sensing that his death is imminent, pardons her instead. Faliero is led off. Alone on the stage, Elena hears the sound of the executioner's axe, screams and faints.[4]


Year Cast:
Marino Faliero,
Israele Bertucci,
Opera House and Orchestra
1976 Cesare Siepi,
Licinio Montefusco,
Giuliano Ciannella,
Marisa Galvany
Elio Boncompagni,
RAI Milan Symphony Orchestra
Audio CD: Bongiovanni
Cat: 2408/9-2;[6]
Myto Records
Cat: MCD 054.314
2002 Michele Pertusi,
Roberto Servile,
Rockwell Blake,
Mariella Devia
Ottavio Dantone,
Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Regio Parma
(Recording of a performance in Parma, 2 January)
Audio CD: House of Opera
Cat: CD 820
2008 Giorgio Surian,
Luca Grassi,
Ivan Magri,
Rachele Stanisci
Bruno Cinquegrani,
Orchestra and Chorus of Bergamo Musica Festival Gaetano Donizetti,
(Filmed at the Teatro Donizetti, Bergamo, 31 October and 2 November)
DVD: Naxos,
Cat: VD 2.110616-17.



  1. ^ Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "Marino Faliero, 12 March 1835". Almanacco Amadeus (Italian).
  2. ^ a b Ashbrook and Hibberd 2001, p. 237
  3. ^ a b Black 1982, pp. 33—34.
  4. ^ Part of this synopsis is a translation from Marin Faliero (opera) on the Italian Wikipedia.
  5. ^ Recordings of Marino Faliero on
  6. ^ Tom Kaufman, "Marino Faliero", Opera Today online, 31 May 2006

Cited sources

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External links[edit]