Les Martyrs

Gaetano Donizetti

Grand opéra in four acts

Libretto by Eugène Scribe


Is it permissible to make martyrdom the subject of an opera? In the 1830s, Italian censors answered with a resounding “No”, prompting Gaetano Donizetti to switch to France and enlist the help of librettist Eugène Scribe to publish the opera he was planning, Poliuto, as a grand opéra. Under the title Les Martyrs the work received its premiere in Paris in 1840 and included, among other things, a ballet scene, an innovative score structure that presaged the music-drama form, and a spectacularly reworked tenor part. In the days of the persecution of Christians in Armenia in Late Antiquity, a young woman is caught not just between two religions, but also between her husband and her former lover. Personal turmoil and ideological upheavals collide in an opera that risks the bold contrast between Italian bel canto and French Romanticism. In his production, director Cezary Tomaszewski concentrates on the tragic history of the country in which the action is set: Armenia.


In French with German and English surtitles

Introduction to the work 30 minutes before curtain-up




Witness to genocide - A text about Aurora Mardiganian (in German)

Discovery package