Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix in Giessen

Fortunately, it happens sometimes. You have a ticket for an opera about a poor country girl who, removed to Paris, is set up in a luxury apartment by her aristocratic lover. She loses her reason when she is falsely accused of sleeping with him. Apparently, he is prepared to wait until they are properly married. But all turns out well in the end because his love restores her sanity. Given the plot of Donizetti’s rarely performed Linda di Chamounix and the fact that it is to be given in the small German town of Giessen, you do not have high expectations … but you strike gold. An astute production by Hans Walther Richter with a degree of realism that is in contemporary Germany highly unusual was matched with a sympathetic interpretation of Donizetti’s imaginative score by conductor Florian Ziemen.

There were committed performances by all the cast, particularly the Basque soprano Naroa Intxausti, sure in bel canto coloratura technique and with an engaging stage presenece. The Uruguayan tenor Leonardo Ferrando impressed with his gleaming voice (a failed high note apart) and energetic acting; and there was Sofia Pavone, moving vocally and dramatically in the trousers role of Pierotto, and the sonorous bass Calin Valentin Cozma as the Prefect. All of these – and the well-trained chorus – brought the piece to life. No, more than that, it emerged as a vibrant example of early 19th century music drama.