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Ausrine Stundyte as Cio-Cio-San, Elizabeth Janes as Butterfly’s child and Sarah Larsen as Suzuki in Seattle Opera's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Photo by Elise Bakketun.
North American Works Directory Listing
Borgia Infami
Harold Blumenfeld
Charles Kondek
George Manahan (conductor)
Sean Fallen (Narciso)
May 07, 2003
New York City Opera
Borgia Infami depicts the lives, loves, and crimes of the notorious Borgia clan, focusing upon Rodrigo, who becomes the brilliant and corrupt Pope Alexander VI; his son Cesare, whose ruthless pursuit of power is immortalized in Macchiavelli's writings; and especially Rodrigo's beauteous daughter Lucrezia, Duchess of Ferrara and alleged poisoner of the family's enemies. The action unfolds on dual levels, alternating historical fact with Victor Hugo's hypermelodramatic portrayal of Lucrezia. Right in the Vatican, she has borne an illegitimate son, product of suspected papal incest. Separated from her at birth, the boy matures into a virtuous young officer driven by an implacable hatred of the Borgias, and by a passion to find his lost mother. All the while Lucrezia has lovingly watched over him from a distance, writing him anonymously. But unwittingly she comes to poison him, along with his Borgia-hostile friends. Out of shock and desperation she mortally stabs herself. Revealing her true identity to her son, they perish together. Her crimes are wiped clean through selfless maternal devotion. And ingeniously, the librettist has connected this to the present.
5 principal roles
5 secondary roles
Borgia Infami is a singers' opera. Arias emerge, as do duets, trios, and a sextet. There are scenes of violence and mayhem. There is the auto da fè of Savonarola. There is a drinking scene interrupted by the death chant of approaching monks; scenes of impassioned filial love; a canal-side conspiracy, with Offenbachian overtones; street urchins with irreverent comic relief; and moments of transparent, wistful simplicity - Lucrezia in her convent, with Bingen-like womens' chant in background. In the opening scene, Pinturicchio's painting of the coronation of Rodrigo Borgia comes alive, and the piece is launched.
onstage and offstage choral groups (8 men minimum [priests, monks], 6 boys [street urchins], offstage womens' chorus, 6)
3 fl, 2 ob, 3 cl, 3 bsn - 3 hrn, 4 tpt, 3 tbn, tba - timp, hp, pf, 2 perc - str
Contemporary singers' opera; dramatic; cinematic
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