Gioachino Rossini is known to a wide audience today primarily for his buffo operas such as Il barbiere di Siviglia or La Cenerentola ; that among his around 39 works for music theater there are also some extremely worthwhile serious operas to be discovered, that has so far not reached consciousness. With his opera seria La donna del lago, premiered in Naples in 1819, Rossini set a whole fashion trend in motion: It was the first Italian opera to be based on a poem by Walter Scott, the Scottish romantic writer who was also the model for Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and over 20 other Italian operas. Just like Lucia is tooLa donna del lago is settled in Scotland in the 16th century and tells of entanglements in love affairs, albeit with a positive outcome: King Giacomo V wanders through the country under a false name, in which insurgents are raging, and falls in love with the beautiful Elena, the «woman from the lake ». However, this was promised by her father to someone else, Rodrigo, and he himself loves a third person, Malcolm. Rodrigo falls in a duel with the disguised king, Malcolm is incarcerated as a rebel. But the king is generous; he renounces Elena and pardons Malcolm. Nothing stands in the way of Elena's and Malcolm's love. La donna del lagohas experienced a renaissance in recent years with performances in Geneva, Vienna, Paris and London, not least thanks to the atmospherically dense music that evokes the Scottish Highlands in sound, and thanks to Rossini's ingenious melodies and will now also be heard for the first time at the Zurich Opera House. Antonino Fogliani is a conductor whose inspired Rossini conductors have already caused a sensation elsewhere. Rossini wrote the virtuoso title role for his future wife, Isabella Colbran, one of the most famous singers of her time; Karine Deshayes will take on this demanding role at the Zurich Opera House. For the first time at the Zurich Opera House, the American Vivicagenaux can be seen in the contralto part of Malcolm, Elena's lover.
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