Lucrezia Borgia is a melodramma, or opera, in a prologue and two acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Felice Romani wrote the Italian libretto after the play by Victor Hugo, in its turn after the legend of Lucrezia Borgia.
It was first performed on 26 December 1834 at La Scala, Milan.
When the opera was staged in Paris in 1840, Hugo obtained an injunction against further productions. The libretto was then rewritten and retitled La Rinegata, with the Italian characters changed to Turks, and the performances were resumed. The first English-language production was in London on 30 December, 1843.
A famous performance of Lucrezia Borgia made in 1965 at the Carnegie Hall with soprano Montserrat Caballé (her American debut) was soon followed by a recording featuring Caballé, mezzo soprano Shirley Verrett, tenor Alfredo Kraus, and bass Ezio Flagello, conducted by Jonel Perlea. This performance and recording helped reintroduce the work to the opera-loving public.
The soprano aria "Com'è bello", together with the tenor's "Di pescator ignobile" are perhaps the most famous melodic moments from the opera and has been performed and recorded frequently.
Lucrezia Borgia is still performed from time to time as a vehicle for a star soprano and there are several recordings, such as the famous 1980 Covent Garden production, with Richard Bonynge conducting the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.