Donizetti's rarely-produced masterwork Poliuto reveals the epic side of this bel canto genius. Poliuto contrasts fierce personal conflict with sweeping heroic scale, in the manner of French grand opera - a choice which would wield great influence on Verdi. Poliuto's grand Temple Scene in Act II clearly foreshadows the famous Triumphal Scene in Aida . Based on Corneille's French Neoclassical tragedy Polyeucte , Poliuto weaves the tale of Saint Polyeuctus (d. 259 AD), an early Christian martyr. The opera portrays Poliuto's spiritual crisis after his conversion to Christianity incites persecution by Armenia's Roman occupiers. His wife Paolina, though in love with another man, is so moved by Poliuto's courage that she finally follows him to his tragic fate.
Sung in Italian with English supertitles. Finish times: 20:40 and 20:25