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Om Rossini's La Donna del Lago
Dawn rises on the scenic and idyllic Loch Katrine in Scotland. The beautiful Ellen (Elena) glides in her boat through the mist. Onto this dreamy scene, comes King James, the randy father of Mary Queen of Scots. He is disguised as Uberto, a mere hunter. He joins two other suitors competing for her hand. The rest is...the story in Sir Walter Scott's 'The Lady of the Lake'.Rossini based his opera La Donna del Lago on Scott's Romantic love story. It was premiered in Naples in 1819. Of course, it is fictitious and nonsense. But it is full of Romantic colour. We encounter Gaelic bards, rebel warriors, Black Roderick (Rodrigo) the Highland chief, and so on. It harks back to the influential poetry ascribed to the Gaelic bard Ossian, who was the centre of one of the most sensational literary scandals there has ever been. Although the opera had the customary 'fiasco' on the first night, it was subsequently a great success. The music is glorious. La Donna joined The Barber of Seville, La Cenerentola, and William Tell among Rossini's most popular operas. No wonder the enthusiastic French novelist Stendhal called Rossini 'the greatest living artist of his time'.