Opera Scotland

Belisario 1846Mr Calcraft's Italian Opera Company

Read more about the opera Belisario

Donizetti's Belisario had enjoyed a decade of success around the operatic world, reaching London a year after its 1836 premiere.  Its first British appearance outside London was a decade later, on 3 September 1846 in Dublin, a few days before that company sailed up the Clyde.

The title role is for dramatic baritone, and in the publicity for this tour is described as one of Fornasari's best parts.  Indeed the second performance of Belisario, the last night but one of the visit, was chosen for his benefit.  In reviewing the Edinburgh outing a week earlier, the Caledonian Mercury was seriously impressed.  'On Tuesday evening Belisario was performed to introduce Fornasari as the old warrior, being one of the finest dramatic efforts of the age.  It was quite overpowering, in many parts presenting a grand but touching moral picture of the vanity of human glory.  His emotion on listening to the tones of the daughter, after losing his sight, came with thrilling power on the audience.'

The principal tenor, Giacinto Marras, may have had a voice on the heavy side for Elvino in Sonnambula, but the Mercury thought he was back on form.  'Marras also appeared to much greater advantage than on the former evening.  His taste is perfect, and his style of that impassioned character in which his countrymen so much excel.'

Glasgow saw six opera performances at the Theatre Royal, Dunlop Street, and Edinburgh five, at the Theatre Royal.  The sixth event in Edinburgh was a concert of operatic excerpts in the new Music Hall on George Street on Sunday afternoon. (For details of the concert see the Puritani note).  The repertoire consisted of three operas by Bellini (La sonnambulaNorma, I puritani) and two by Donizetti (Lucia di LammermoorBelisario).  The last pair were receiving their Scottish premieres, and Belisario, an excellent work that has enjoyed some recent revivals, has not been seen here since.  The other four works remained popular for many decades, and are now accepted as elements of the standard repertoire.

Performance Cast

Giustiniano Justinian, Emperor in the East

Signor Ciabatta

Belisario supreme commander of the Imperial army

Luciano Fornasari

Antonina wife of Belisario

Jeanne Anaïs Castellan

Irene daughter of Belisario and Antonina

Signora Corbari

Alamiro a prisoner of Belisario

Giacinto Marras

Production Cast


Signor Orsini

Performance DatesBelisario 1846

Map List

Theatre Royal, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

22 Sep, 20.00

Theatre Royal, Dunlop Street, Glasgow | Glasgow

29 Sep, 20.00

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