Murder, frivolity and spiritual dignities: no other noble family has been embroiled in as many scandals as the Borgias. Conductor Fabio Biondi and director Emilio Sagi bring LUCREZIA BORGIA to the stage of the Palau de les Arts in Valencia, hometown of the Borgia family.
The historical figure of Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of pope Alexander VI and sister to the Machiavellian prince Cesare Borgia, has been the subject of much malicious rumour and the inspiration for artists through the centuries, who have cast her as a Renaissance femme fatale, renowned for her ruthless pursuit of power.
In Gaetano Donizetti’s opera, the high-spirited nobleman Gennaro becomes the lover of a beautiful woman who he later discovers to be no other than Lucrezia Borgia, de Duchess of Ferrara. He then knocks off the initial letter of her familiy name on the crest of the façade of her palazzo, turning Borgia into Orgia (orgy). Unaware of whom has insulted her, Lucrezia seeks revenge leading the opera’s tragic climax: Gennaro, poisoned, dying at the hand of his lover and his own mother.
Premiered in 1833 at La Scala, LUCREZIA BORGIA appealed powerfully to Romantic sensibilities for its dark subject matter and somber tone. The masterpiece was fully recognized as one of Donizetti’s finest scores only after the Paris premiere in 1840, which itself sparked some controversy: Writer Victor Hugo successfully sued for plagiarism against the French translation of Romani’s libretto that was based on his tragedy. LUCREZIA BORGIA is a true example of an ensemble opera: it has ten significant roles.