I puritani

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I puritani (The Puritans) is an opera in three acts by Vincenzo Bellini. It is his last opera. Its libretto is by Count Carlo Pepoli, based on Têtes rondes et Cavaliers by Jacques-François Ancelot and Joseph Xavier Saintine. It was first produced at the Théâtre-Italien in Paris, 24 January 1835. At the same time, Bellini composed an alternative version intended for the famous Maria Malibran, who was to sing it in Naples; she died exactly a year to the day after the composer, and so this version was not performed on stage until 10 April 1986 at the Teatro Petruzzelli, Bari, with Katia Ricciarelli.

Composition history[edit]

Librettist
Carlo Pepoli











Performance history[edit]

Rubini as Arturo
Sutherland and Pavarotti, 1976

Roles[edit]

Luigi Lablache and Giulia Grisi in I puritani, King's Theatre, London, 1835
Role Voice type Premiere cast,
24 January 1835[1]
(Conductor: )
Lord Arturo Talbo[2] tenor Giovanni Battista Rubini
Elvira, betrothed to Arturo soprano Giulia Grisi
Sir Riccardo Forth, the Puritan leader in love with Elvira baritone Antonio Tamburini
Sir Giorgio Valton,[3] Elvira's uncle bass Luigi Lablache
Lord Gualtiero Valton, Elvira's father and Giorgio's brother bass Luigi Profeti
Sir Bruno Robertson tenor M. Magliano
Enrichetta di Francia, widow of Charles I mezzo-soprano Maria Amigo
Soldiers, heralds, armigers, Puritans, lords and ladies, pages, servants

Synopsis[edit]

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

Act 1[edit]

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[edit]

An excerpt from "Credeasi, misera", act 3. The notes highlighted (above the high C) are among the highest demanded in tenor operatic repertoire and are usually sung falsetto or altogether transposed.

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[edit]

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 queste braccia). 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 Bellini writes a high F-natural above C5 for 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.

Recordings[edit]

Year Cast
(Elvira, Arturo,
Riccardo, Giorgio)
Conductor,
Opera house and orchestra
Label[4]
1952 Lina Pagliughi,
Mario Filippeschi,
Rolando Panerai,
Sesto Bruscantini
Fernando Previtali,
Coro e Orchestra di Roma della RAI
CD: Bongiovanni "Il Mito dell'Opera",
Cat: GB 1170/1-2
1953 Maria Callas,
Giuseppe Di Stefano,
Rolando Panerai,
Nicola Rossi-Lemeni
Tullio Serafin,
La Scala Orchestra and Chorus
CD: EMI
Cat: 585 647-2 (heavily cut)
1959 Anna Moffo,
Gianni Raimondi,
Ugo Savarese,
Raffaele Arié
Mario Rossi,
Coro e Orchestra di Milano della RAI
CD: Premiere Opera Ltd.,
Cat: CDNO 1448-2
Opera Depot,
Cat: OD
1960 Joan Sutherland,
Nicola Filacuridi,
Ernest Blanc,
Giuseppe Modesti
Vittorio Gui,
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Glyndebourne Chorus,
(Recording of a performance at the Glyndebourne Festival, 18 July)
CD: Glyndebourne Omega Opera Archive,
Cat: 1398
1963 Joan Sutherland,
Pierre Duval,
Renato Capecchi,
Ezio Flagello
Richard Bonynge,
Coro et Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
CD: Decca,
Cat: 448 969-2
1973 Beverly Sills,
Nicolai Gedda,
Louis Quilico,
Paul Plishka
Julius Rudel,
London Philharmonic Orchestra and Ambrosian Opera Chorus
CD: Westminster The Legacy
Cat: 471 207-2
1973 Joan Sutherland,
Luciano Pavarotti,
Piero Cappuccilli,
Nicolai Ghiaurov
Richard Bonynge,
London Symphony Orchestra and chorus of the Royal Opera House
CD: London
Cat: POCL 2896-8
1979 Montserrat Caballé,
Alfredo Kraus,
Matteo Manuguerra,
Agostino Ferrin
Riccardo Muti,
Philharmonia Orchestra and the Ambrosian Opera Chorus
CD: EMI Classics
Cat: 5 09149
2007 Anna Netrebko,
Eric Cutler,
Franco Vassallo,
John Relyea
Patrick Summers,
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Chorus and Ballet,
(Video recording made at performances at the MET, January)
DVD: Deutsche Grammophon
Cat: 073 4421

Cultural references[edit]

I puritani, which she referred to as "dear Puritani", was Queen Victoria's favourite opera and the first which she attended in the company of Prince Albert before their marriage.[5] The 2009 film The Young Victoria includes an episode in which Albert and Victoria discuss the opera, as well as a scene showing Victoria attending a performance.[6] In the film Fitzcarraldo, the cast of I puritani was on Fitzcarraldo's boat performing the opera in full costume and sang "A te, O cara" (from Act I, Scene 3) on his triumphal return to Iquitos.[7]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ Casaglia listing of premiere cast
  2. ^ The surname "Talbo" in the libretto is a substitution for "Talbot" in Ancelot and Saintine's play.
  3. ^ The surname "Valton" in the libretto is a substitution for "Walton" in Ancelot and Saintine's play.
  4. ^ Recordings of I puritani on operadis-opera-discography.org.uk
  5. ^ Rappaport 2012, p. 275
  6. ^ Mary Kunz Goldman, "True love Royal romance story is beautifully filmed and acted", Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY), December 25, 2009. Retrieved 10 August 2013
  7. ^ Prager 2007, p. 162

Cited sources

Other sources

External links[edit]