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Donizetti’s Le Duc d’Albe suffers a similar fate in as much as the composer left it incomplete. The Vlaamse Opera enterprisingly premiered it and recorded it in French in 2012, but in a version completed by Giorgio Battistelli. Opera Rara has decided to offer just the first two acts, almost completed by the composer and edited by Roger Parker. (Large parts of Acts III and IV are so incomplete that it was decided better to leave them to the imagination.) The libretto lived on, forming the core of Verdi’s Les vêpres siciliennes in 1855, so at least we have some idea of how the piece could have panned out. Donizetti certainly doesn’t suffer by comparison. Where the Verdi opera often sprawls, Donizetti offers a more concise musical language to make an impact and his theatrical effects are exciting, given full reign under Mark Elder. In the title role, Laurent Naouri sounds the best I’ve heard him, suave and rich-toned. Michael Spyres as Henri is impeccably stylish as ever, and Angela Meade’s first recording offers class, thrills, and a tendency to shrillness at the very top.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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