“American Tenor, Michael Fabiano Talks Bel Canto” and about the ENO’s Upcoming Production of Donizetti’s “Lucrezia Borgia”

ENO presents a unique new staging of one of the Italian composer’s most profound masterpieces Lucrezia Borgia. Legendary recordings are cherished by opera fans everywhere, but live performances of the work in its entirety are rare, so this staging is an extraordinary treat for all serious music lovers.

Director Mike Figgis has created some of the most significant cinema in recent years, including the Oscar-winning classic Leaving Las Vegas starring Nicolas Cage. Here, he brings his visionary directorial style to opera for the first time. The production features a specially commissioned new film by Figgis, charting the early life of Lucrezia Borgia.

Claire Rutter, star of ENO’s Zandra Rhodes-designed Aida, returns as Renaissance Italy’s darkest femme fatale, with rising young American tenor Michael Fabiano as Lucrezia’s long-lost son. ENO’s Olivier Award-winning former Music Director, Paul Daniel, conducts.

Jan 31, Feb 9, 15, 18, 23, 25 & Mar 3 at 7.30pm, Feb 5, 12 at 6.30pm


Claire Rutter (Lucrezia Borgia)

Michael Fabiano (Gennaro)

Elizabeth DeShong (Maffio Orsini)

Alastair Miles (Alfonso d’Este)


Interview: Michael Fabiano stars in ENO’s new production of Lucrezia Borgia

A great voice and brains to boot, tenor Michael Fabiano

World’s first live 3D opera
ENO and Sky are collaborating again on a world-first broadcasting project, with Lucrezia Borgia becoming the first ever live opera in 3D.

The partnership will create the world’s first ‘quadcast’ on 23 February 2011, with a live broadcast on Sky Arts 2 (HD), Sky 3D and live into selected cinemas in 3D around the UK and a deferred relay in 2D into selected cinemas internationally. The fourth element of the ‘quadcast’, onto Sky Arts 1, is directed by Mike Figgis, and will allow audiences a closer understanding of his concept for Lucrezia Borgia as well as including interviews with people behind the scenes.

Synopsis of “Lucrezia Borgia”


The Palazzo Grimani, Venice

A party is in full swing and Gennaro and his companions are enjoying themselves. The conversation turns to Alfonso, Duke of Ferrara, and his infamous wife, Lucrezia Borgia. Orsini recounts how Gennaro saved his life in battle. They swore eternal friendship, but had no sooner done so when a man appeared prophesying that the two friends would die together and that they must avoid Lucrezia Borgia.

Bored and tired, Gennaro leaves his friends and falls asleep on the terrace, where he is discovered by Lucrezia Borgia. Wearing a mask to protect her true identity, she has followed Gennaro to Venice because he is her long-lost son. Preoccupied by Gennaro, she fails to notice Alfonso and his henchman, Rustighello, lurking in the shadows. Gennaro wakes and, overwhelmed by Lucrezia’s beauty, declares there is only one other woman he loves more: the mother he never knew. He recounts to Lucrezia the story of his childhood.

Gennaro’s comrades return and immediately recognize Lucrezia, who has been responsible for murdering members of each of their families. Gennaro is horrified.

Act I
Scene 1 A piazza in Ferrara

Alfonso wrongly believes Gennaro and Lucrezia to be lovers and plots Gennaro’s murder.

Gennaro and his entourage have come to Ferrara as part of the Venetian embassy and have taken lodgings close the ducal palace. To show his hatred of Lucrezia’s crimes, Gennaro defaces an image of her.

Gubetta (sent by Lucrezia) and Rustighello (sent by Alfonso) are both looking for Gennaro. Rustighello and his men seize Gennaro.

Scene 2
A room in the ducal palace

Alfonso orders Rustighello to fetch two decanters of wine, one of silver and the other – containing poisoned wine – of gold.

Lucrezia enters. Having seen her defaced image, she demands revenge on the perpetrator. Gennaro is brought before them and accused of insulting the Borgias, a charge to which he confesses. When she discovers that it is Gennaro who is responsible, Lucrezia attempts to back-track from her previous position and makes excuses for him. Alfonso accuses her of infidelity with Gennaro, which she vehemently denies. She threatens Alfonso, reminding him of the fate that met each of her previous husbands. But Alfonso remains adamant, and forces her to choose the manner of Gennaro’s execution.

Alfonso pretends to Gennaro that he has yielded to Lucrezia’s pleas to release him. Gennaro is surprised by the duke’s clemency and reveals that he once saved the life of Alfonso’s father in battle, news of which prompts Alfonso to feign gratitude. The duke offers him a glass of wine, and forces Lucrezia to pour the drink from the poisoned decanter.

As soon as Alfonso leaves, Lucrezia administers an antidote to the poison and begs Gennaro to leave Ferrara.

Interval of 20 minutes

Act II
Scene 1 A courtyard leading to Gennaro’s lodgings

Gennaro admits to himself that he loves Lucrezia.

Rustighello and his men come to arrest Gennaro. They overhear Orsini persuading Gennaro to remain in Ferrara and attend the banquet at the Princess Negroni’s that evening.

Scene 2

The Princess Negroni’s banquet

Gubetta, who is loyal to Lucrezia, mocks Orsini and a fight breaks out. Liverotto puts a stop to it, and Gubetta invites everyone to drink a toast to friendship. Orsini leads a drinking song which is interrupted by mysterious voices chanting the service for the dead.

Lucrezia enters and announces that in revenge for their insults in Venice, Gennaro’s associates – Orsini, Liverotto, Vitellozo, Petrucci and Gazella – have been served poisoned wine. Horrified to see Gennaro still in Ferrara, she swears she never intended her vengeance to extend to him. There is still some of the antidote left, but not enough to save him and his companions. Gennaro attempts to kill Lucrezia but she stops him by revealing that she is his mother. Son and mother are briefly united before the poison acts on Gennaro. Realizing that she has murdered her own son, Lucrezia calls on God to strike her down.