Louis-Charles, Duc de Normandie, enjoyed a charmed early childhood in the gilded palace of Versailles. At the age of four, he became the dauphin, heir to the most powerful throne in Europe. Yet within five years he was to lose everything. Drawn into the horror of the French Revolution, his family was incarcerated and their fate thrust into the hands of the revolutionaries who wished to destroy the monarchy.
Donizetti’s fascination with the story of Gabriella di Vergy began in 1826. His first version, written for his own pleasure, was never completed. For over a century that was all that was known to exist. In 1979, Opera Rara discovered in a London library a hitherto unknown complete opera on the same subject. Donizetti had written this for Naples in 1838. The grisly appeal of the story of Gabriella lies in its powerful final scene in which Gabriella’s husband, Fayel, delivers to her a casket containing the still-warm heart of her lover, Raoul. On this world premier recording, Opera Rara also includes three pieces from the 1826 version.