Joyce El-Khoury on being thrown to Donizetti’s lions.

Did you know Poliutobefore you came to Les Martyrs, and how different do you find the roles of Paolina and Pauline?
I had listened to, but not studied Poliuto before Opera Rara offered me this recording.  Once I had confirmation that the Les Martyrs project was a go, I made a conscious effort to concentrate all of my attention on preparing the role of Pauline without looking for hints of interpretation from elsewhere. It was my duty to present her in an honest way; a way in which a listener could come away having had the experience of hearing a work which should be able to stand on its own.

Pauline is conflicted in so many ways – love and duty towards husband, father, her former lover, her religion. Where do you find the greatest tension lies?
I feel as though Pauline has had the rug pulled from under her, and it seems as...