The La Favorita fantasy was given its first performance on 12 June 1859 in the tiny town of Basse-Terre on the southwest coast of the island of Guadaloupe. The piano must have been made of stern stuff to withstand the onslaught. The audience went wild. Just over a year later, Gottschalk made his debut as an opera conductor at the Teatro Principal in Matanzas, Cuba. The work? Donizetti’s Les Martyrs, followed two days later by Lucia di Lammermoor. There is a further (tenuous, though nonetheless interesting) link between Gottschalk and Donizetti. Long before Gottschalk toured with the thirteen-year-old Adelina Patti, her mother, the soprano Caterina Chiesa Barilli-Patti (d1870), had had a part written specially for her by the Italian composer.
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2003
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