King James V is entranced when he meets a beautiful woman, Elena, in the Highlands. But he is dismayed to learn that she is the daughter of his enemy, Douglas. Elena, meanwhile, is in love, but not with James V or her fiancée…
La donna del lago is one of the most lyrical of Gioachino Rossini’s operas, with expansive ensembles and shimmering orchestration. It is based on Walter Scott’s 1810 poem The Lady of the Lake and features a libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola. Although its premiere in Naples in 1819 was a success it was rarely staged throughout much of the 19th and 20th centuries. John Fulljames’s new production provides an opportunity to experience an underperformed gem.
La donna del lago opens in the atmospheric surroundings of the Scottish Highlands, as Elena – the titular Lady of the Lake – rows across Loch Katrine, singing of her love for romantic hero Malcolm. Elena’s exquisite arias are contrasted with moments of high drama, from the stormy confrontation between Rodrigo and the King to the orchestral frenzy unleashed at the sighting of a meteor.
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Rossini introduces us to his heroine Elena as she rows her boat across a loch.
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