Marino Faliero is a much neglected opera, which never received the attention it truly deserved. Unfortunately for Donizetti, it came out during the same season as I puritani, Bellini’s masterpiece which was hailed as a superior work by critics and audiences alike. The public responded warmly to I puritani and favoured Bellini’s opera over that by Donizetti.
Donizetti’s opera is based on the true story of 14th Century Venetian Doge Marino Faliero who attempted an uprising in order to make himself Prince. He was still the Doge but already very old when he undertook this venture. His conspiracy was discovered and he was beheaded in April 1355. It becomes immediately obvious that an opera based on such a subject cannot be a light affair. In fact, Donizetti’s work is a sombre event both in musical and dramatic terms. Personally, I do not find it inferior to Bellini’s I puritani but its plot is more complicated. There’s no happy, harmonious ending, the heroine is not innocent nor does she go mad; her handsome lover dies in the second half of the opera and the lead character of the title has his head chopped off with an axe. Hardly cheerful stuff! All that said, it does not deserve to be shelved and is one of Donizetti’s great operas. It perhaps already paves the way that opera was to follow when a certain Giuseppe Verdi appeared on the scene.
Marino Faliero has very beautiful music and is very difficult to sing. I was therefore eagerly anticipating this recording by Naxos but sadly, the singing of the lead roles is disappointing though the moments with the orchestra and chorus are still wonderful. It could have been memorable…It is not! Click for the full review.