A New Critical Edition of Donizetti’s Le Duc d’Albe

Submitting Institution

King's College London

Unit of Assessment

Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Literary Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies

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Summary of the impact

Roger Parker's case study involves his critical edition of Donizetti's opera Le Duc d'Albe, which was given its world premiere at Vlaamse Opera (Belgium) with an international cast in May-June 2012. This edition made available to the public, for the first time, what is in effect a new Donizetti opera, never before (even in the composer's lifetime) performed in its original language and in this particular configuration. The impact of the performances is demonstrable in international reviews and in the fact that a commercial recording of the opera is now planned (by Opera Rara of London).

Underpinning research

This edition comes at the end of a sustained, twenty-five-year period of activity, during which Roger Parker has been involved with the making of critical editions, and of disseminating knowledge about them through various channels.

During those years, in which he taught at Cornell (1982-93), Oxford (1994-99), Cambridge (2000-6) and King's College London (2007-), Parker has produced twelve critical editions, of operas by Verdi, Donizetti and Puccini. Several of these have been performed regularly at the world's greatest opera houses. One example is his edition of Verdi's Nabucco, which was premiered at La Scala, Milan, conducted by Riccardo Muti as his first production as chief conductor at La Scala; this was as the inaugural event of the 1986-87 season, and was broadcast on European TV, subsequently recorded and released as a DVD. Another is his edition of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, which was premiered at the Royal Opera House in 2003 and has since been seen at La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and many other venues; it will be seen again at La Scala in 2014. Parker has been (since 1987) founding Co-General Editor of the Donizetti Critical Edition, published by Ricordi of Milan, which has published so far 11 volumes, with several more already performed and awaiting publication. His edition of Puccini's Tosca has been seen at many recent seasons at La Scala, and has also been recorded commercially by Riccardo Muti. In 2013 his edition of Puccini's Manon Lescaut inaugurated the new Edizione Critica delle Opere di Giacomo Puccini, published by Ricordi (this new Manon was premiered by Riccardo Chailly in Leipzig in 2008).

During his time at King's (post 2007), Parker undertook the major task of preparing Le Duc d'Albe for performance (in part with funds supplied by King's), and also did all the final work that saw his edition of Manon Lescaut into print. He has also continued to produce outputs (in a range of formats) that underpin and discuss his edition-making. The most prominent of these are:

--articles and other scholarly outputs that examine the terms and criteria that such editions follow;

--programme books (more than 100 to date, ca. 20 since joining King's, with a particularly large number for La Scala, Teatro Donizetti (Bergamo), English National Opera, Royal Opera House and Glyndebourne Opera);

--pre-performance and study-day talks (again numerous during recent years, with a notable number at ROH, ENO and Glyndebourne) in which such work can be disseminated to the general public.

References to the research

1. Roger Parker, ed., Gaetano Donizetti, Le Duc d'Albe, 2012, critical edition of the opera (performed 2012 and available on request)

2. Roger Parker, General Editor, Le opere di Gaetano Donizetti (Ricordi, 1987-); with Gabriele Dotto. Volumes produced: Maria Stuarda (1989), La Favorite (1991), Il campanello (1994), Poliuto (2000), Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali (2002), Dom Sébastien (2003), Linda di Chamounix (2006), Pia de' Tolomei (2007), Deux Hommes et une femme (Rita) (2008), Betly (2010), Maria di Rohan (2011); volumes in press: Anna Bolena, Les Martyrs, Lucia di Lammermoor, Adelia; volumes in preparation: Lucrezia Borgia, La Fille du régiment, Parisina, Don Pasquale

3. Roger Parker, ed., Giacomo Puccini, Tosca (La Scala, Milan, 1989; vocal score, Milan, 1995; German vocal score, Munich, 1998)

4. Roger Parker, "A Donizetti Critical Edition in the Postmodern World", in Francesco Bellotto, ed., L'opera teatrale di Gaetano Donizetti (Bergamo, 1993), 57-68

5. Roger Parker, "Manon Lescaut: La Scala 1930", Opera Quarterly, 24/1-2 (2008), 93-106


6. Roger Parker, ed. Giacomo Puccini, Manon Lescaut (Milan, 2013)


Details of the impact

Explanation of the process. The edition of Le Duc d'Albe had a complicated genesis. The Donizetti Edizione critica was approached by the Intendant of Vlaamse Opera (in 2007) with the idea of producing a first-ever French-language edition of Le Duc, an opera that Donizetti had written for Paris in 1839 but left unfinished at his death. Parker took on the project in 2008, gained grant funding of £4000 from LCASE in order to employ a graduate assistant, obtained the autograph materials from the Ricordi archives in Milan, located further materials in various other archives, and completed the edition in 2009. As the opera is unfinished, Vlaamse Opera and Ricordi agreed to commission the Italian composer Giorgio Battistelli to complete two numbers left particularly incomplete (Parker himself supplied various other missing portions, and supplied some missing orchestration). Parker then collaborated with Battistelli, supplying him with transcriptions of all Donizetti's sketches and the original libretto. The eventual edition was produced by Ricordi, in full score, vocal score and orchestral parts. The edition itself is laid out typographically in a novel way—one that allows the complex compositional history to be seen at a glance. All passages not written by Donizetti himself (he left much of the orchestration of later sections of the opera incomplete) are in grey-scale on the orchestral score, thus allowing conductors and scholars to see immediately—without recourse to a Critical Commentary—what is by the composer and what has been added by others. The score is also accompanied by a detailed account of the opera's genesis, and of the state in which Donizetti left it.

The research assistant on the project was Dr Flora Willson, at that time a masters' student (and later a PhD student) at King's. Her work on the edition led to her being commissioned to edit an edition of her own in the Donizetti Edizione critica (his French opera Les Martyrs, which will be published in 2015 and recorded by Opera Rara of London in 2014); she went on to complete her doctorate and won a Junior Research Fellowship at King's College, Cambridge.

Details of beneficiaries. The beneficiaries of the edition were, of course, all those who managed to witness the performances in 2012. But it is clear from the subsequent reception and dissemination that the audience for this event was much larger. There is a complete video on YouTube; there were numerous reviews of the production in the local, national and international press; the performance was broadcast on Belgian radio. What is more, this first performance will doubtless stimulate others. A potent indication of its larger impact is the fact that Opera Rara, the major international recording company, has now programmed a commercial recording of this edition of Le Duc d'Albe, to be conducted by Sir Mark Elder, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; this will take place in 2014.

Details of the nature of the impact. As mentioned about, before the appearance of Parker's edition, Donizetti's Le Duc d'Albe has never (even in the composer's lifetime) been performed, or indeed been made available in score. Because of this, a huge amount of misinformation has circulated about precisely what Donizetti was responsible for in the score, and what had been the work of others. In finally clarifying these matters, the present edition allows scholars and opera lovers to understand anew the nature of Donizetti's achievement at this crucial period in his life.

Evidence or indicators of the extent of the impact. The major evidence of impact can be found in the various reviews that emerged in the wake of the performance (some of the most important listed below). Also critical, however, is the fact that a major recording company has now planned a studio recording of the opera.

Dates. Le Duc d'Albe was given by Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp and then Ghent; there were eleven performances in total, from 6 May until 2 June 2012.

Sources to corroborate the impact

The best way to get a general impression of the impact of this event is to type "Le Duc d'Albe" into Google. This will give an indication of the extent of the coverage, which was considerable.

5.1 A major source is
http://vlaamseopera.be/en/#!/productions/le-duc-d-albe which documents the performances and casts, and also give a selection of the reviews that these elicited.

5.2 A programme note for the opera was provided by Roger Parker. It was translated printed in English in the Donizetti Society Journal:

5.3 A large number of other reviews appeared. For example in the New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/16/arts/16iht-loomis16.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 in Opera magazine (UK; issue of September 2012, pp.1082-1083), in numerous Belgian newspapers, etc

5.4 The broadcast on Belgian radio is documented on:

5.5. A complete video of the performance is available on YouTube:

5.6 Corroborating individuals:

- Co-General Editor, Donizetti Critical Edition/Director of Michigan State University (impact on Donizetti studies)

- Intendant, Vlaamse Opera (impact of le Duc d'Albe in performance)

- Managing Director, Opera Rara (impact of the opera, and why it was worth investing in a recording)