Presented here in the critical edition edited by Rebecca Harris-Warrick, which reinstates the original French version as conceived by Donizetti for its first performance at the Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique in Paris in 1840 – La Favorite is an opera which is especially close to my heart. It is one of Donizetti’s more famous works, yet has been performed in imaginative but terrible reinterpretations, disfigured by omissions that have become standard, and demeaned by a meaningless rhythmic and poetic translation that has failed to honour the genius of Donizetti. It is hard to believe that the opera resisted so well until the arrival of modern Belcanto sensitivity which, amongst its many other merits, has given us the critical editions that have enabled us to rediscover true Belcanto. Such editions include this excellent one by Harris-Warrick, which allows us to perform this unabridged version of La Favorite, including the marvellous, elaborate ballet, here in Bergamo.
I am conducting the Donizetti Opera Orchestra and Chorus, the latter joined by the Chorus of Accademia della Scala. This new staging is by Valentina Carrasco, the director with whom I worked recently on the 1857 version of Simon Boccanegra, staged at the Festival Verdi in Parma. Since La Favorite ‘calls for’ great voices, I will have some of the most highly regarded Belcanto singers at my disposal, such as Annalisa Stroppa in the leading role, tenor Javier Camarena, baritone Florian Sempey and bass Evgeny Stavinsky, with Caterina Di Tonno and Edoardo Milletti.