Small picture of Donizetti



Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia

San Francisco Opera, San Francisco,  September 16 - October 11, 2011.

Photographs by Cory Weaver, courtesy of San Francisco Opera


Photographs from the 2011 San Francisco production of Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia, its first ever production there. It seems to have been primarily a vehicle for Renée Fleming.   Michael Fabriano and Elizabeth DeShong from the English National Opera production (it was an entirely different production) earlier this year also starred with the other major role, that of the Duke Alfonso, taken by Vitalij Kowaljow.   

Interestingly both productions intimated a homosexual bond between Gennaro and Orsini, although the logic of it escapes me given that Orsini is sung by a woman as it did Sean Martinfield in the San Francisco Sentinel (September 25, 2011) who found it "arbitrary, out-of-the-blue, and patronizing. Moreover, it is just plain silly."  Both also took sexual abuse of Lucrezia by her brother and father to account to some degree for her actions. These reflect our times rather than any deep reading of the opera.

Aside from Michael Vaughn (The Opera Critic) who was very positive all round about the opera, the critical sentiment was very mixed with Fleming, perhaps inevitably given the build up, taking some stick. Joshua Kosman in the San Francisco Chronicle (September 26, 2011) reckoned that she turned in "a lazy, theatrically vacuous performance in the title role." Jason Victor Serinus (The San Francisco Classical Voice) was also not keen finding her singing "lacked the tonal brilliance and inner tension requisite for a great Lucrezia", while he thought Frizza's conducting frenetic although it "eased up in the finale of Act 3, allowing as much of a sense of tragedy as Fleming was capable of generating to sink in."  

On the contrary, Richard Sheinin (San Jose Mercury News, September 24, 2011) commented on the "marvelous singing", the "robust chorus and a dazzlingly spot-on performance by the orchestra" while characterising Fleming's singing as "sumptuous and long-lined, airy and ravishingly rich " .  The work, though, he thought "B-level" Donizetti and that the production as a whole did not "generate sparks".  The sets were traditional with castle walls and the like although the costumes had a certain space age look about them but "John Pascoe’s clueless direction drained whatever life the work ... might have offered" (Janos Gereben, The San Francisco Examiner, September 24, 2011).


The Team


Lucrezia Borgia - Renée Fleming

Maffio Orsini - Elizabeth DeShong

Gennaro - Michael Fabiano

Alfonso d’Este -  Vitalij Kowaljow

Rustighello - Daniel Montenegro

Jeppo Liverotto - Christopher Jackson

Oloferno Vitellozzo - Brian Jagde

Apostolo Gazello - Austin Kness

Astolfo - Ryan Kuster

Ascanio Petrucci - Ao Li

Gubetta - Igor Vieira


Conductor - Riccardo Frizza

Director - John Pascoe

Production Designer - John Pascoe

Chorus Director - Ian Robertson



The initial confrontation with the Borgia followers.

Credit: Cory Weaver


Gennaro's friends confront Lucrezia.

Credit: Cory Weaver


Alfonso and Lucrezia

Credit: Cory Weaver


The arrest of Gennaro.

Credit: Cory Weaver


Orsini's drinking song.

Credit: Cory Weaver



Credit: Cory Weaver


Lucrezia and the dying Gennaro

Credit: Cory Weaver





Page initially published in  October 2010