Donizetti: Il castello di Kenilworth
Il castello di Kenilworth (or, under its original name in 1829, Elisabetta al castello di Kenilworth) is a melodramma serio or tragic opera in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Andrea Leone Tottola wrote the Italian libretto after Victor Hugo's play Amy Robsart (1828) and Eugene Scribe's play Leicester, both of which following from Scott's novel Kenilworth (1821). Daniel Auber composed another opera on the same subject, Leicester, ou Le chateau de Kenilworth in 1823.
This opera was the first of Donizetti's excursions into the Tudor period of English history, and it was followed in 1830 by Anna Bolena, (which was based on the life of Ann Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII), then by Maria Stuarda (named for Mary, Queen of Scots) which appeared in different forms in 1834 and 1835. All represented the interests (even obsessions) of many Italian composers of the era, Donizetti's included, in the character of Elizabeth I, whose life he was to explore further in 1837 in his opera Roberto Devereux (named for a putative lover of Queen Elizabeth I.) The leading female characters of the operas Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda, and Roberto Devereux are often referred to as the "Three Donizetti Queens."
As Elisabetta al castello di Kenilworth the opera received its first performance on 6 July 1829 at the Teatro San Carlo, Naples and, in a revised version at the same house, as Il castello di Kenilworth on 24 June 1830.