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L'Ange de Nisida in concert

18–21 July 2018
Main Stage

The Royal Opera in association with Opera Rara gives the world premiere of Donizetti’s opera, which was reworked as La Favorite. The concert performance, conducted by Mark Elder, stars Joyce El-Khoury.

When to see it

The Story

The soldier Leone has fallen in love with the mysterious Sylvia, and travels illicitly to the island Nisida to see her. She loves him in return but begs him to forget her – she is the king’s mistress. Meanwhile, the king faces political pressure to abandon Sylvia.

The king learns of Leone’s love. He decides to marry Leone to Sylvia, and then send Leone away so that Sylvia can remain his mistress. Leone discovers the plot and flees, determined to enter a holy order. He is followed by Sylvia, who begs his forgiveness before she dies.


Donizetti completed the score for L’Ange de Nisida in 1839, for the Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris. But the theatre went bankrupt and the opera was never performed. Donizetti was able to recycle some of his music in later works – most notably in La Favorite – but much of the score has never been heard. Mark Elder’s Opera Rara presents a concert performance of a new performing edition by Italian musicologist Candida Mantica, in the world premiere of this unknown Donizetti opera.

Donizetti had enjoyed a period of extraordinary productivity throughout the 1830s, his last decade in Italy. He wrote 25 operas over 1830–8, including such works as L’elisir d’amore, Lucia di Lammermoor and Maria Stuarda. In 1838 he left Naples for a new life in Paris, and from 1840 would equal and surpass his Neapolitan successes – albeit with some casualties, including L’Ange de Nisida and Le Duc d’Albe. This world premiere sheds new light on this international phase of Donizetti’s later career.