The ultimate bel canto cast is assembled for this important yet rarely performed masterpiece. Based on Sir Walter Scott’s poem The Lady of the Lake, La donna del lago is the most fully Romantic of Rossini’s Italian operas. Expansive ensembles and shimmering orchestration generate an opulence seldom heard in the composer’s comic works.
In Renaissance Scotland, King James V travels to the tribal Highlands, where he falls in love with Elena – the lady of the lake. Her father is fighting with the clans against the King’s rule and has promised Elena’s hand in marriage to a clan leader, Rodrigo. Meanwhile Elena herself is in love with the young romantic hero Malcolm. The plot inspired some truly galvanizing scenes, most memorably the stunning confrontation between the tenors Uberto (James V in disguise) and Rodrigo.
John Fulljames’s staging evokes the exoticized mystery of Rossini’s Romantic landscape, and provides an insight into this rich but under-explored seam of operatic gold. In the hands of three of the leading bel canto voices of our time, Juan Diego Flórez (Count Almaviva in The Royal Opera’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, Tonio in The Royal Opera’s La Fille durégiment), Joyce DiDonato (who sang the title role in Cendrillon with The Royal Opera last Season), and Colin Lee (Tonio in the 2012 revival of La Fille du régiment), La donna del lago promises to be a musical revelation.