100 bäsa operorna – La Sonnambula av Bellini

17 oktober 2009

La Sonnambula – by Vincenzo Bellini

La sonnambula (The Sleepwalker) is an opera semiseria in two acts, music by Vincenzo Bellini to an Italian libretto by Felice Romani


Act 1

Scene 1: A village, a mill in the background

Lisa, the proprietress of the inn, is consumed with jealousy as the betrothal procession of Amina and Elvino, who had once been betrothed to her, approaches. She spurns the lovelorn Alessio. Amina thanks her friends for their kind wishes and particularly her foster-mother Teresa, owner of the mill, who had adopted her as an orphan. She thanks Alessio, who had composed the wedding song and organised the celebrations, wishing him well in his courtship of Lisa, who continues to reject his advances. Elvino arrives, having stopped on his way at his mother’s grave to ask her blessing on Amina. He gives Amina his mother’s ring and they exchange vows.

A stranger arrives, asking the way to the castle. Lisa points out that it is getting late and he will not reach it before dark and offers him lodging at her inn. The newcomer, who surprises the villagers by his familiarity with the locality, asks about the celebrations and admires Amina, who reminds him of a girl he had loved long ago. He admits to having once stayed in the castle, whose lord has been dead for four years. When Teresa explains that his son had vanished some years previously, the stranger assures them that he is alive and will return.

As darkness approaches the villagers warn him that it is time to be indoors to avoid the village phantom, but he is not superstitious and assures them that they will soon be free of the apparition. Elvino is jealous of the stranger’s admiration of Amina; he is jealous even of the breezes that caress her, but he promises her he will reform.

Scene 2: A room in the inn
Lisa tells the stranger that he has been recognised as Rodolfo, the long-lost son of the count, and warns him that the village is preparing a formal welcome. Meanwhile she will be the first to pay her respects. She is flattered when he begins a flirtation with her, but runs out, dropping a handkerchief, when a sound is heard outside.

It is Amina, who enters the room, walking in her sleep. Rodolfo, realising that her nocturnal wanderings have given rise to the story of the village phantom, is about to take advantage of her helpless state, but is struck by her obvious innocence and refrains. She falls asleep on the sofa and he goes outside as the villagers are heard advancing on the inn to welcome their new lord. Lisa points to the sleeping Amina; and Elvino, believing her faithless, rejects her in fury. Only Teresa believes in her innocence.
[edit] Act 2

Scene 1: A wood

On their way to ask the count to attest to Amina’s innocence, the villagers meet Amina and Teresa, on a similar mission. Elvino continues to reject Amina, even when the count sends a message that she is innocent. Elvino is not convinced and takes back the ring, though he is unable to tear her image from his heart.

Scene 2: The village, as in Act I

Elvino has decided to marry Lisa. They are about to go to the church when Rodolfo tries to explain that Amina is innocent because she had not come to his room awake – she is a somnambulist, a sleepwalker, but Elvino refuses to believe him.

Teresa begs the villagers to be quiet, because Amina has at last fallen into an exhausted sleep. Learning of the impending marriage, she confronts Lisa, who says that she has never been found alone in a man’s room. Teresa produces the handkerchief Lisa had dropped. The Count refuses to comment, but continues to assert Amina’s virtue. Elvino demands proof, which is dramatically produced when Amina is seen walking in her sleep across the high, dangerously unstable mill bridge. Rodolfo warns that to wake her would be fatal, so all watch as she relives her betrothal and her grief at Elvino’s rejection. When she reaches the other side safely, Elvino calls to her and she wakes to find herself in his arms, to the rejoicing of all.

Count Rodolfo – bass
Amina – soprano
Elvino – tenor
Lisa – soprano
Teresa – mezzo-soprano
Alessio – bass
Notary – tenor
Villagers – chorus

La Sonnambula is one of the classic bel canto operas. It was an immediate success and is still performed regularly. Amina is a demanding role, and it’s quite often a stepping stone towards roles like Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor. Knowing this I was quite surprised to see that there’s a CD with Cecilia Bartoli available. La Sonnambula is one of the operas that I’m going to see the next time I can get a week of free Metplayer. Metropolitan has a performance with Natalie Dessay available. Here is her famous aria, which is a very typical ”mad scene” aria.



100 bästa operorna – I Puritani av Bellini

27 juli 200976 – I Puritani by Vincenzo Bellini

I puritani (The Puritans) is an opera in three acts, by Vincenzo Bellini.

Place: England during the English Civil War
Time: 1640s

Act 1

A fortress near Plymouth, commanded by Lord Gualtiero Valton

At daybreak, the Puritan soldiers anticipate victory over the Royalists. Riccardo had been promised Elvira’s hand in marriage by Lord Valton but, returning to Plymouth, he finds that she is in love with Arturo (a Royalist), and will marry him instead. He confides in Bruno (”Ah! Per sempre … Bel sogno beato”).

In Elvira’s apartments, Giorgio reveals that it was he who persuaded Lord Valton to grant Elvira’s wish. She is overjoyed.

Arturo arrives for the wedding and celebrates his new-found happiness (”A te, o cara”). Valton is to take a mysterious lady (suspected of being a Royalist spy) to appear before Parliament. Arturo discovers that she is Enrichetta (Henrietta Maria), widow of the executed King Charles I. Elvira appears singing a joyful polonaise (”Son vergin vezzosa”), but drops her wedding veil as she departs to make ready for the wedding. Arturo uses the veil to disguise Enrichetta as Elvira and so enabling her to escape. On the way, they encounter Riccardo and, when he discovers that the woman with Arturo is not Elvira, he is content to let them pass. When the escape is discovered, Elvira believes herself deserted and loses her reason (”Oh, vieni al tempio, fedele Arturo”).

Act 2

Another part of the fortress

Giorgio describes Elvira’s madness (”Cinta di fiori”). Riccardo brings the news that Arturo is now a fugitive who has been condemned to death for allowing Enrichetta to escape. Elvira now appears, still deranged but longing for Arturo (”Qui la voce …Vien, diletto”). Giorgio and Riccardo argue over whether Arturo’s death will mean that Elvira will die of grief, but eventually agree that he must die if he is found fighting for the Royalists in the impending battle (”Il rival salvar tu dei … Suoni la tromba”).

Act 3

The countryside near the fortress, three months later

Arturo is still on the run, but has returned to see Elvira. He hears her singing (”A una fonte afflitto e solo”) and they are reunited (”Vieni fra le mie braccie”). But Elvira fears that they will again be parted, and when Riccardo arrives, with Giorgio and the soldiers, to announce Arturo’s death sentence, she finally comes to her senses. An ensemble (”Credeasi, misera”) develops, during which the unusually high note of an F above high C is required from Arturo, and even Riccardo is moved by the plight of the lovers. The soldiers demand Arturo’s execution, but word is brought that, although the Royalists have been defeated, Oliver Cromwell has pardoned all prisoners. The lovers are finally united for good.

Arturo Talbo – tenor
Elvira, betrothed to Arturo – soprano
Riccardo Forth – baritone
Giorgio Valton – bass
Gualtiero Valton, Elvira’s father and Giorgio’s brother – bass
Bruno Robertson – tenor
Enrichetta di Francia, widow of Charles I – mezzosoprano
Soldiers, heralds, armigers, Puritans, lords and ladies, pages, servants

I actually saw I Puritani yesterday on Metplayer. The plot isn’t complicated or long, but the time is filled up with wonderful bel canto-passages. The second act for example is basically just two pieces, the mad scene and then bass/baritone duet. Especially the mad scene is a classic, and definitely takes a skilled singer. Since it’s more or less half an hour long, I can only give you this excerpt of Edita Gruberova singing it. Personally I liked the bass/baritone duet the most. I also really liked the final ending of the whole opera.



I Puritani – Metropolitan, 2007

26 juli 2009

Jag har registrerat mig igen på Metropolitans Metplayer, nu under sommaren erbjuder de nämligen 7 dagar gratis. Det kommer att bli hårdkörning med opera, minst en om dagen är mitt mål, det är ju också en ypperlig chans att se operor jag inte har sett tidigare.

Hittils har det blivit Barberaren i Sevilla och I Puritani, sen vill jag definitivt se die Meistersinger och jag är också sugen på Fidelio, på grund av rollistan mer än handlingen. Vi får se hur det blir.

Nåja, här är min recension av I Puritani.
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I Puritani av Vincenzo Bellini är en klockren bel canto-opera. Handlingen är ganska enkel egentligen. I inbördeskrigets England älskar puritanen Elvira royalisten Arturo. Hennes farbror övertygar ändå hennes far om att de ska få gifta sig, men precis innan bröllopet hjälper Arturo den engelska drottningen att fly. Elvira blir galen, hennes farbror blir arg, men sen kommer Arturo tillbaka och i sista stroferna blir han benådad. Slutet gott, allting gott.

Uppsättningen är väldigt traditionell, och den känns lite fyrkantig. Framförallt från Arturos sida blir det ”mycket stå upp och sätt handen framför bröstet så uttrycker jag mina känslor-”stilen. Arturo är överlag den klart blekaste karaktären. Den starkaste är Elvira, här spelad av Anna Netrebko. Det finns en del som säger att Netrebko har mer utseende än röst, men här briljerar hon fullständigt. Det är en fröjd att höra hennes bel canto-bågar, och man blir helt häpen när hon plötsligt ligger ner och sjunger vansinnesscenen på rygg! Hon kanske inte har så mycket uttryck, men det hon har passar bra eftersom Elvira inte direkt är en mångfacetterad personlighet heller. Slutscenen är otroligt vacker. Mest intressant karaktärsmässigt är hennes farbror Giorgio, spelad av John Relyea.

Jag kan också nämna att scenografin är urtjusig, det ser verkligen ut som en tavla av Rembrandt hela operan igenom. Sen blir jag ändå lite irriterad över att Cromwells ”roundheads” ser ut som conquistadorer och att det inte finns någon på Mets kostymavdelning som verkar veta hur man snör ihop ett klänningsliv, men det är ändå bara detaljer.

Vill man höra och se en klassisk bel canto-opera passar den här bra. Musiken är bedårande, och svår, men å andra sidan är texterna klart tillbakasatta för tonakrobatiken.

Betyget blir 3,5 av 5 galna primadonnor

Här är slutscenen, som jag verkligen gillade, jag blev riktigt rörd.