Sunday, 7 August 2011

I Puritani, by Bellini

My Puritani dates 1995-09-022004-02-282005-06-22.

All 3 in the same production, 2 in Wiener Staatsoper and one in Deutsche Oper Berlin.

Regie - John Dew
Scenography - Heinz Balthes
Costumes - Jose Manuel Vasquez

Video from another production with Edita Gruberova as Elvira

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

Queen Henrietta Maria, 1609-69 (In the opera Enrichetta ´di Francia) was married to King Charles the First 1600-1649 who was beheaded on 30 January 1649 (he was sentenced to death on 27 January 1649)

Wikipedia article on Charles I
Biography on the official website of the British monarchy
King Charles' speech from the scaffold
The Death Warrant of King Charles I - House of Lords Record Office

The role of Enrichetta ´di Francia is a small one but important for the story. Lord Arthur Talbot is a follower of Charles I and wants to save the Queen (Henrietta Maria, known as Queen Mary in England) from the same end as her husband. So as he is about to marry his love of his life, he instead helps Enrichetta to escape England. This is in a way a double treason, treason to Elvira and to his country. Then he comes back some months later he comes back. Little does he understand how she has suffered and that she has "gone mad". The stupid man with some glorious singing, that's Arturo.

The opera could have had an happy ending but Sir Riccardo Forth, the Puritan leader in love with Elvira, did not want that so he kills Arturo, even as Arturo has been pardoned by Oliver Cromwell. At least, that is what happened in the Puritani production I have seen.

When I first saw the opera in 1995 I had big problems in finding out who is who and where is the tenor, and what happens here and there. And it could have been Plácido Domingo who was conducting as he was the original conductor to this production. It is hard to know who to cheer when they are both men in dark cloths, one in dark green, the other in dark blue, and the stage is darkly lit and one does not even know how the tenor or baritone look like. But I think I enjoyed it even in 1995.

In 2004 and 2005 I knew the story and I really wanted a happy end. In 2004 in Vienna it was Stefania Bonfadelli who sang Elvira, in 2005 in Berlin it was Edita Gruberova. Both with tenor Joseph Calleja as Arturo.

I don't have any complete recording of I Puritani myself so I can't recommend any, but on my ITUNES I have this.

I PURITANI - Son salvo, alfin son salvo 15:38 Marcelo Alvarez, Ying Huang 6 av 10 Bel Canto - Marcelo Alvarez BELLINI, Vincenzo (1801 - 1835) 1998
I PURITANI - Introduzione 3:25 Conductor Plácido Domingo 1 av 10 Domingo Live - Recordings 1967-1999 (Wiener Staatsoper) BELLINI, Vincenzo (1801 - 1835) 1994
I PURITANI - A te, o cara, amor talora 3:33 Marcelo Alvarez 13 av 16 The Tenor's Passion - Marcelo Alvarez BELLINI, Vincenzo (1801 - 1835) 2004

LESSONS from the opera: Never leave a bride at the altar and think you can come back and that nothing has changed.

HISTORY: Read about The English Civil War (1642–1651)

For more reviews from my travels, see

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