Sir Mark Elder introduces the rarely heard grand opera
Donizetti's grand opera Les martyrs has rarely been heard since its premiere in 1840, 175 years ago. Originally written in Italian for Naples, as Poliuto, the work presents a tale of Christian martyrdom. Subject to censorship however, it was never performed there, and Donizetti later adapted it for the Paris Opera and French audiences. The premiere was a success, but it disappeared from the repertoire.