Given his prolific output, it’s hardly surprising that Donizetti could be a little hit and miss. However, popular reaction at the time has proven an unreliable weathervane and Il Paria (The Outcast) is a good case in point.

Il Paria album artwork

Written for the Teatro San Carlo in Naples in 1829, it had a lot riding on it: it was the first opera Donizetti had written since being appointed Director of the Royal Theatres in Naples and it was to be a royal gala premiere to boot. Alas, a combination of an awkward audience afraid to applaud unless the King gave the royal sign of approval, high ticket prices for subsequent performances, and a work perhaps too forward-looking for the Neapolitan punters...