What is it that a citizen owes to his city or country? This is the question posed by Donizetti's rarely performed bel conto epic. It is the story of the burghers of Calais (depicted by Rodin in his famous sculpture outside the Houses of Parliament), citizens who offer up their lives to save their city from a besieging army. Their sacrifice is quiet, ordinary, sublime - and it culminates in one of the most moving ensembles in all of opera, the momentous O sacra polve, o suol natio (O Sacred Earth). The opera also includes poignant, intimate scenes between the young couple at the heart of the drama and between the leader of the city and his anguished followers. Meanwhile, at the gates, the triumphant Edward III shouts for blood.
Sung in Italian with English surtitles.