Zoraida di Granata

Gaetano Donizetti

A modern premiere, Zoraida di Granata follows the experience of a woman drawn into war against her will, in a battle to save her love.

Zoraida di Granata

Melodramma eroico in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti 
Libretto by Bartolomeo Merelli, revised by librettist Jacopo Ferretti  

Fully-Staged Production
Sung in Italian with English surtitles 

First performance
Teatro Argentina, Rome, Italy, 1822 

A co-production with Donizetti Opera Festival, Bergamo 


The Plot

The action takes place during a Spanish attack on the Moorish capital of Grenada, where king Almuzir is in love with Zoraida, the daughter of the king he has deposed and whose throne he has usurped. But she is already betrothed to his general Abenamet. Machinations ensue, and though Almuzir tries to dispose of Abenamet, the general outwits the ruler by disguising himself as an unknown knight. Abenamet finally wins the day by forcing the king into a remorseful confession, even defending the usurper against the people’s wrath. A happy end sees Zoraida and Abenamet reunited.

Background / The Opera 

Any A-Z of Donizetti’s 70 or so operas must eventually come to Zoraida di Granata, but actually, it belongs much higher up the list: a very early work, it was his first big success. The composer was only 24 when Zoraida di Granata was premiered at Rome’s Teatro Argentina in January 1822, and the opera was nearly born under an unlucky star, since the tenor originally cast as Abenamet fell fatally ill during rehearsals. There being no understudy, Donizetti hastily rewrote and shortened the part for a contralto Adelaide Mazzanti. When Donizetti revised the opera for the same theatre two years later, with a much starrier Abenamet, Rosamunda Pisaroni, he upgraded the part accordingly.  

Only a handful of Donizetti’s operas hold a place in the mainstream repertoire, but our appreciation of them has been radically changed by a better acquaintance with some of the lesser-known titles. Zoraida di Granata is probably the earliest of his works that opera-lovers at least have a chance of knowing since about 25 years ago Opera Rara released a ground-breaking recording of the piece. The music shows the composer, if still under the influence of his teacher Simone Mayr, absorbing the brilliance of Rossini. It is also a work of great significance since the success of Zoraida di Granata led Donizetti to win a contract with the impresario Domenico Barbaja, who opened his path to Naples and an eight-year apprenticeship there that left him ready to burst through with Anna Bolena at La Scala in 1830.  

With the exception of the Donizetti Opera Festival (Bergamo, Italy), Wexford Festival Opera has produced more works by Gaetano Donizetti than any other opera festival in the world. In particular, WFO is credited for the rediscovery of L’elisir d’amore, in 1952, which has subsequently found its way into the operatic canon.  

Donizetti operas at Wexford Festival Opera include:  

  • 1952 L’elisir d’amore 
  • 1953 Don Pasquale 
  • 1957 La Figlia del Reggimento 
  • 1958 Anna Bolena 
  • 1963 Don Pasquale 
  • 1964 Lucia di Lammermoor 
  • 1966 Lucrezia Borgia 
  • 1970 Giovedi Grasso 
  • 1973 L’Ajo nell’Imbarazzo 
  • 1983 Linda di Chamounix 
  • 1991 L’Assedio di Calais 
  • 1996 Parisina 
  • 2005 Maria di Rohan 
  • 2006 Don Gregorio 
  • 2009 Maria Padilla 
  • 2011 Gianni di Parigi 
  • 2016 Maria de Rudenz 
  • 2023 Zoraida di Granata 
  • 2023 La fille du régiment 

Creative Team

Diego Ceretta
Bruno Ravella
Set & Costume Designer
Gary McCann
Lighting Designer
Daniele Naldi


Konu Kim
Claudia Boyle
Matteo Mezzaro
Rachel Croash
Ali Zegri
Matteo Guerzè