Gaetano Donizetti: Maria di Rohan

Donizetti Critical Edition

Edited by Luca Zoppelli (2011)

Two-volume set: score + critical commentary pp. I-LI, 1-362 / 363-741
NR 137533
Piano vocal score available
CP 137536

The great merit of this critical edition is that it gathers together and publishes for the first time everything that Donizetti composed for Maria di Rohan in the course of the two and a half years following the premiere of the opera, a period in which the composer continued to review and revise the text of the opera as much in its macrostructure as in its finest details. Some of these alterations were determined by individual performance requirements, while others were the fruit of the desire to constantly improve the scenic and expressive efficacy of the opera. The editor has carefully reconstructed six versions of the opera.

Vienna 1843. The principal text of this edition is based entirely on the sources of the first version of the opera – 5 June 1843, Theater am Kärntnertor, Vienna – with the exception of the cabaletta of Chevreuse’s Cavatina No. 2 for which, so far as the production in question is concerned, there no longer exists a score but only the reduction for voice and piano prepared by Ricordi immediately after the premiere. The editor has thus chosen to publish the original version (in the reduction for voice and piano) in Appendix 1a and provides in the principal text the version of the cabaletta prepared by Donizetti in the summer of 1843, for that matter very similar to the original. Appendix 1b includes the final cabaletta of Maria (No. 8) not performed in the premiere in Vienna but completely composed by Donizetti and then suppressed in the course of one of the final rehearsals prior to the premiere.

Summer 1843. After leaving Vienna, Donizetti immediately began to revise the score effecting significant changes. The version prepared in this period, however, was never staged and remained only in a “conceptual” state, notwithstanding the fact that it constituted a well-defined compositional project.

Paris 1 (November 1843). The principal modification in this version is the change in the vocal register of the character of Gondì which switches from tenor to contralto (a modification that was then maintained in successive versions). The opportunity to have at his disposal a great singer like Marietta Brambilla for Gondì was the reason that induced Donizetti to extensively develop the part, transforming the character from supporting role to ‘prima parte’. The listening habits of the Parisian public also prompted Donizetti to expand the opera further.

Paris 2 (December 1843). In spite of these adjustments, the opera still appeared too short for the Parisian public and Donizetti almost immediately took steps to further extend it with new music. In fact, the month of December 1843 saw the composition of three new pieces (contained in Appendix 4).

Vienna 1844. On the occasion of the ‘return’ of the opera to Vienna the work was performed with the variants prepared for the Paris 2 version. In addition, Donizetti replaced the original Chalais’s Cavatina (No. 1) with a new piece composed especially for the tenor Nicola Ivanoff. Up to today no musical source for this piece has been found.

Naples 1844. Produced under the title of Il conte di Chalais, the opera was performed in a new version very similar to the Paris 2 version, with the following changes: Chalais’s Cavatina (in No. 1) was replaced by a new piece (provided in Appendix 5a); Gondì’s Scena and Cavatina in the second act was eliminated, perhaps because of the inadequacy of the interpreter; Maria and Chalais’s Duet in Act 3 was eliminated; and the Finale III was shortened. Donizetti also revised numerous details in the orchestration and completely rewrote the part of  Gondì in the recitatives and in the ensemble passages of No.s 2 and 3 (the new version is provided in Appendix 5b).

In addition to the music prepared by Donizetti for these versions, the critical edition restores in Appendixes 6 and 7 a number of pieces composed by Donizetti for Maria di Rohan for which it is not possible to identify the circumstances of their composition.

With the aim of helping the modern interpreter to find his/her way among the many versions of Maria di Rohan the critical edition presents in the introduction to the score (pp. XVIII-XIX) a highly useful table which summarises effectively the structure of each one. In this way it offers the modern interpreter not only the opportunity to perform any one of the various versions of the opera prepared under the direct control of Donizetti but also makes a number of suggestions on how to realise ‘intermediate’ versions of it according to the spirit and the aesthetic conceptions of the epoch. The vast range of possibilities offered to interpreters is in any case the fruit of a deep and systematic study of the sources of the epoch and thus makes it possible to achieve a variety of performance results all philologically plausible and correct.