Venice, 1457. The Council of Ten has gathered to try the case of Jacopo Foscari, son of the Doge: he has been accused of murder by Loredano, a man who despises the Foscari family with a passion. A verdict is reached, and Jacopo is sentenced to exile; his wife Lucrezia delivers the news to him in prison. In his private room, the Doge, Francesco Foscari, reflects upon the grandeur and miseries of power.
Do you enjoy the Venetian crime novels of Donna Leon, creator of the celebrated Commissario Brunetti? Imagine that their distant ancestor was an opera by Verdi, one steeped in the most energetic and spirited creative juices of the composer’s youth! That opera is I due Foscari!
Rumours of poisoning, acts of torture, hallucinations, and exile: all of the elements of Frenetic Romanticism are present. And the best effects of local colour are there as well, including gondolier’s songs, barcarole, and a regatta on the lagoon, while patriotic singing swells up and the bell of San Marco sounds the alarm.
This revenge tragedy, based on a work by Lord Byron, recounts the deep-seated hatred between two Venetian families who aspire to become doge, a murky quest for power punished by profound solitude, and a father’s love impeded by state policy. By the denouement, the ruthless Loredano has eliminated the two Foscari: father and son.
Come experience Jacopo’s desperate energy, weep before Lucrezia’s moving vehemence, and admire Francesco’s resigned nobility! Through its dramatic force and dark colours, I due Foscari is a forerunner to the composer’s later-life masterpieces like Simon Boccanegra and Don Carlos. This evening benefits from the talent of the best Verdian singers today—Leo Nucci, Marina Rebeka and Francesco Meli—under the baton of Daniele Rustioni conducting the Chœur et Orchestre de l’Opéra de Lyon.