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O'Reilly Theatre, National Opera House

Maria de Rudenz has been described as ‘perhaps the darkest of Donizetti’s tragedies’, which is saying something and may account in part for the opera’s long-standing neglect. It tells the story of how Maria falls in love with Corrado against her father’s wishes and flees with him to Venice. But in Venice, Corrado abandons her and heads back to the Rudenz family castle, falling in love this time with Maria’s cousin, Matilde di Wolf. Maria returns to the castle and discovers that her lover is not only going to marry her cousin but is also, in fact, the son of a murderer. On the wedding day of Matilde and Corrado, Maria appears and reveals Corrado’s secret, murders Matilde and commits suicide.

First performed at La Fenice in Venice in 1838, Maria de Rudenz comes in the sequence of Donizetti’s 70 or so operas between Roberto Devereux and Poliuto and is thus a work of the composer’s full mastery. Its unsuccessful premiere may have been one reason Donizetti was quick to rearrange the first-act finale for Poliuto (Wexford patrons who saw that opera at Glyndebourne last summer will perhaps recognize some of the music). As so often with Donizetti, this score has its own tinta, or colour, something most noticeable in the long bass clarinet solo in the prelude to Act 2.

The first modern staging of Maria de Rudenz was given, again at La Fenice, in 1980, and it still awaits a full production in both the United Kingdom and the United States. This autumn’s Irish premiere is the latest in a series of important Donizetti revivals at Wexford, which has played a major role in what remains an ongoing Donizetti renaissance. It is surely no coincidence that Wexford Festival Opera’s lifetime has overlapped with Donizetti’s reversal of fortune – the composer who 65 years ago was all but written off as intellectually disreputable has now regained his rightful place in the operatic canon.

The October 31st performance is kindly sponsored by Terry and Marjorie Neill


Maria de RudenzGilda Fiume
Matilde di WolfSophie Gordeladze
Corrado WaldorfJoo Woon Kang
EnricoJesus Garcia
RambaldoMichele Patti
Chancellor of RudenzRichard Shaffrey
SupernumerariesSusan Andreson
Ryan Blanch
Emma Doyle
Hugh Fanning
Catherine Gaul
Eoin O'Connor

Creative team

ComposerGaetano Donizetti
ConductorAndrew Greenwood
DirectorFabio Ceresa
Set DesignGary McCann
Costume DesignGiuseppe Palella
Lighting DesignChristopher Akerlind
Chorus MasterErrol Girdlestone
Stage ManagerTheresa Tsang
SubtitlesElizabeth Drwal
MiscellaneousOpera in 3 parts, Libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, Sung in Italian
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