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, which is in turn based on Walter Scott's novel Old Mortality. 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.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere cast,
24 January 1835
|Lord Arturo Talbo||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, 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|
- Place: England during the English Civil War
- Time: 1640s
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).
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).
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 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.
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. 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. In the film Fitzcarraldo, the cast of I puritani was on Fitcarraldo'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.
- Casaglia listing of premiere cast
- The surname "Talbo" in the libretto is a substitution for "Talbot" in Ancelot and Saintine's play.
- The surname "Valton" in the libretto is a substitution for "Walton" in Ancelot and Saintine's play.
- Recordings of I puritani on operadis-opera-discography.org.uk
- Rappaport, Helen, Queen Victoria: A Biographical Companion, p. 275. ABC-CLIO
- Mary Kunz Goldman, "True love Royal romance story is beautifully filmed and acted", Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY), December 25, 2009. Retrieved 10 August 2013
- Prager, Brad (ed.), A Companion to Werner Herzog, p. 162. John Wiley & Sons
- Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). I puritani. Alamanacco Amadeus (Italian)
- Galatopoulos, Stelios (2002), Bellini: Life, Times, Music: 1801-1835. London, Sanctuary Publishing Ltd. ISBN 9781860744051
- Kimbell, David (2001), "I puritani" in Holden, Amanda (Ed.), The New Penguin Opera Guide, pp. 46–55. New York: Penguin Putnam. ISBN 0-140-29312-4
- Maguire, Simon; Forbes, Elizabeth; Budden, Julian (1998), "I puritani", in Stanley Sadie, (Ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, Vol. Three, pp. 1184–1185. London: MacMillan Publishers, Inc. ISBN 1-56159-228-5
- Osborne, Charles (1994), The Bel Canto Operas of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini, Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press. ISBN 0931340713
- Orrey, Leslie (1973), Bellini (The Master Musicians Series), London: J. M. Dent, Ltd. ISBN 0-460-02137-0
- Rosselli, John (1996), The Life of Bellini, New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-46781-0
- Thiellay, Jean; Thiellay, Jean-Philippe, Bellini, Paris: Actes Sud, 2013, ISBN 978-2-330-02377-5 (French)
- Willier, Stephen Ace, Vincenzo Bellini: A Guide to Research. Routledge, 2002. ISBN 0-8153-3805-8 and on books.google.com.
- Weinstock, Herbert (1971), Bellini: His life and His Operas, New York: Knopf. ISBN 0394416562
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