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MusicPart of Humanities

Work by Southampton Researcher to be Premiered at the Royal Opera House

Published: 16 July 2018
Gaetano Donizetti

The world premiere of an opera by Gaetano Donizetti will take place at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, on 18 July, thanks to a research project originated at the University of Southampton. Dr Candida Mantica's PhD thesis began the reconstruction of the piece, which was thought to be irretrievably lost. Dr Mantica returns to Southampton this year as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow with funding from the European Research Council.

Composed for Théâtre de la Renaissance (Paris) in 1839 for a projected premiere the following year, L’Ange de Nisida remained unperformed because of circumstances beyond Donizetti’s control. After the date of the premiere had been repeatedly delayed, the Théâtre de la Renaissance went bankrupt, preventing the opera from reaching the stage in the state the composer conceived it. Donizetti later re-used portions of the score for the composition of La favorite (1840). The music for L’Ange de Nisida has come down to us like a puzzle, whose pieces are fragmented and are, at times, extremely difficult to decipher. Dr Mantica's reconstruction of L'Ange de Nisida got underway at the University of Southampton in 2008, as part of the AHRC-funded FICTOS (Franco-Italian Cultural Transfer Opera and Song) project, designed and co-directed by Prof. Mark Everist and Prof. Francesco Izzo. Dr  Mantica’s doctoral thesis provided the first ever critical edition of all the parts of L’Ange de Nisida that were not re-used in La favorite.

In 2004, the London-based recording company Opera Rara commissioned Dr Mantica  to produce a complete performing edition of L’Ange de Nisida, which will be the basis for a recording and for the opera’s premiere. Conducted by Sir Mark Elder with a prestigious cast including soprano Joyce El-Khoury, this will take place at the Royal Opera House this coming 18 July, almost 180 years after the opera was written.

Dr Mantica takes up a new appointment as Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the University of Southampton starting from January 2019. Her research project, DiCrEd (Towards a Digital Critical Edition of The Works of Giuseppe Verdi [WGV]), aims at developing a digital critical edition for The Works of Giuseppe Verdi (Casa Ricordi and University of Chicago Press) combining the rigorous approach of the series with the possibilities offered by digital humanities, under the supervision of the current general editor of WGV, Prof. Francesco Izzo. The project will employ the digital tools designed by the Edirom project (University of Paderborn) to develop an applied model of a digital critical edition and of preparatory materials (sketches and drafts). The project uses Verdi’s French version of Macbeth (1865) as a case study, making its full score commercially available for the first time. DiCrEd has the potential to mark a turning point in the fields of musicology and textual criticism, with the long-term prospect of introducing digital tools into the publication of 19th-century Italian opera.

Dr Candida Mantica
Dr Candida Mantica

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