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O'Reilly Theatre, National Opera House


3h 25 min approx. with interval

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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.


Libretto by Bartolomeo Merelli
New critical edition of the 1822 version edited by Edoardo Cavalli © Fondazione Teatro Donizetti, Bergamo

Sung in Italian with English surtitles

First performance: Teatro Argentina, Rome, Italy, 1822

A co-production with Donizetti Opera Festival, Bergamo


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.



Creative Team

The Plot

The action takes place during a Spanish attack on the Moorish capital of Grenada, where Almuzir has deposed and killed the legitimate King and usurped his throne. Almuzir is in love with Zoraida, but she is already betrothed to 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.

Watch & Listen

Zoraida di Granata by Gaetano Donizetti

Watch the Wexford Festival Opera and RTÉ recording of Zoraida di Granata, streamed live from the National Opera House, Wexford, in 2023.

First broadcast on Opera Night with Paul Herriott on RTÉ Lyric FM at 8 pm on Saturday, 24 October 2023 and streamed live on RTÉ Culture.

Zoraida di Granata by Gaetano Donizetti: An interview with Bruno Ravella, director

Bruno Ravella, director of Zoraida di Granata, explains his take on this opera with some interesting insights into the opening title of the 72nd Wexford Festival Opera.

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