The Critical Editions of Gaetano Donizetti's Operas

Project with the collaboration and contribution of Comune di Bergamo


The musical and literary texts of many of Donizetti’s operas, as they have come down to us, pose numerous problems. These are due in part to the perhaps inevitable accumulation of successive layers of changes made by generation after generation of interpreters, whose tastes were ever further from the musical and dramatic aesthetics of Donizetti’s times.

Changes, sometimes done with the best of intentions, were motivated in some cases by the urge to “modernize” the orchestration, the phrasing, or even the structure of some pieces, in other cases by the demands of local censorship, or again by the need to shorten the works or cut up the structure for purely pragmatic reasons.

Sometimes interpolations of extraneous material where made simply to please the whim of this or that performer. In many cases this process had already begun when the composer was still active, but was powerless to control such interventions.

With the growing interest in the “Donizetti Renaissance” over the past decades, the need was keenly felt for a critical edition. (Ricordi had already commissioned scholarly revisions of isolated projects in the past). The acclaim accorded by both specialists and public to the most important critical editions of operas (such as those of the operas of Verdi and of Rossini, which have not only created reliable texts of well-known works but have also restored to the repertory unjustly forgotten operatic gems) has been impressive. For these reasons Casa Ricordi, with the collaboration and contribution of the Comune di Bergamo, began the Donizetti Critical Edition in 1988.

The current project does not aim toward the publication of the complete operas. Rather, the Critical Edition will seek to offer a wide variety of Donizetti’s works. A selection of operas still in the repertory will of course be included, but the series will also publish a selection of lesser-known titles that, for historical or musical reasons, are particularly significant for a better understanding of Donizetti’s career and the historical context in which he worked. The editions will be based as far as possible on original sources, and in most cases the basic text will be the composer’s autograph score.

Naturally, the Ricordi critical editions will provide scores that are both faithful to the original texts and ready for performance.


Scientific and editorial Board

Gabriele Dotto - Roger Parker

Riccardo Allorto - Philip Gossett - Alberto Zedda

William Ashbrook - John Black - Bruno Cagli
Jeremy Commons - Patric Schmid



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