Gaetano Donizetti: Roberto Devereux

Donizetti Critical Edition

Edited by Julia Lockhart (2022)

One volume: full score + critical commentary
NR 142019

Gaetano Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux, written to a libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, was first performed at the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples on 29 October 1837. Although it largely disappeared from the repertory at the end of the nineteenth century, it has now consolidated a position as one of Donizetti’s most innovative late operas and is very often revived.

The edition proposes as the principal text a version of the opera that, for the most part, is as near as possible to that given at the premiere in Naples. The Historical Introduction, offers what is to date the most elaborately documented reconstruction of the genesis and early history of the opera. What is particularly valuable here is the discovery, in the archives of the Naples Conservatorio, of a substantial number of preliminary sketches for the opera. These sketches are described in detail and add vital new perspective to the story of how the composer wrote his opera. The Historical Introduction also contains a lengthy consideration of some particularly difficult performance practice issues. The Sources section of the edition includes a detailed examination of all contemporary sources for the opera. The composer’s autograph score is of course the most important of these, but also of great value is the first printed vocal score of the opera. There are also a number of early manuscript copies of the full score, several of which are valuable in outlining the first interpretations of Donizetti’s music.

A major feature of the new edition are its Appendices (4 in all), which offer much previously-unavailable material from Donizetti’s subsequent revisions of the score, enabling performers for the first time to chose the version of the score that best suits their performing conditions.

  • Appendix 1 contains the two numbers (a new Sinfonia and a new duet cabaletta for Elisabetta and Roberto in Act I) that Donizetti wrote for the Parisian premiere of his opera in 1838. Although these two pieces have been known about for some time, this is the first time they have been published in orchestral score.
  • Appendix 2 contains a Romance for Sara (in Act I) that Donizetti wrote for the French-language version of his score, probably first performed in Rouen in 1841. This is the first time this piece has been published in orchestral score.
  • Appendix 3 contains a Romance for Nottingham (in Act III), never to our knowledge performed before or even mentioned in the Donizetti literature. The Romance survives only in vocal score, but with detailed instructions about orchestration; these instructions have been followed to create, for the first time ever, an orchestral score of the aria.
  • Appendix 4, again completely unknown, contains an alternative Introduzione, Scena ed Aria for Sara (discovered in the archives of the Bibliothèque nationale de France), which Donizetti may have written sometime before embarking on the full composition of the opera.

The edition amends numerous errors in previous editions of the score, and seeks to resolve all the complex issues brought about by the plethora of contemporary sources by which the opera comes down to us. The extensive Critical Notes consider in detail all aspects of the particular problems, the situation with the sources, and the eventual decisions made.