The Metropolitan Opera HD Live: Season 1, Episode 2

Bellini's I Puritani (17 Feb. 2007)

TV Episode  -  Music
8.3
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Reviews: 2 user

England, 1640s. Civil war and politics interfere with Elvira's plans to marry Arturo, because he is helping Queen Elizabeth escape from the rebels. Elvira doesn't understand any of this, so... See full summary »

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Title: Bellini's I Puritani (17 Feb 2007)

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Cast

Episode credited cast:
Anna Netrebko ...
Elvira, the young Puritan woman in love
Eric Cutler ...
Arturo, the Royalist and Elivira's beloved
Franco Vassallo ...
Riccardo, the Puritan leader in love with Elvira
John Relyea ...
Giorgio, Elvira's uncle
Valerian Ruminski ...
Gualtero, Elvira's father
Maria Zifchak ...
Enrichetta, widow of King Charles I
Eduardo Valdes ...
Bruno, a Puritan officer
Patrick Summers ...
Himself - Conducted by
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
William Berger ...
Himself - Opera Writer: segment "Opera Madness"
Joseph Clark ...
Himself - Intermission Interviewee
...
Herself - Special Guest Interviewer
Margaret Juntwait ...
Herself - Radio Host
Metropolitan Opera Chorus ...
Chorus
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra ...
Themselves - Orchestra
Renata Scotto ...
Herself - Soprano: segment: "Opera Madness"
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Storyline

England, 1640s. Civil war and politics interfere with Elvira's plans to marry Arturo, because he is helping Queen Elizabeth escape from the rebels. Elvira doesn't understand any of this, so she goes stark raving mad and sings a cadenza while lying flat on her back, her head hanging upside-down over the edge of the stage. Fearing that she might die of grief or fall over into the orchestra pit, Uncle Giorgio and Riccardo sing the complete version of "Suoni la tromba," including the repeats, and no cuts. Not to be upstaged by any of this, Arturo finally returns from his mission and explains everything by singing a high F above C, the highest note ever composed for tenor voice. There is much rejoicing. It's non-stop, nail-biting action, and Beverly Sills is on hand to provide commentary on the drama. Written by dnitzer

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17 February 2007 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

 
The Guilty are Pardoned
21 August 2007 | by (Birmingham, England) – See all my reviews

We do not get much Bellini in Birmingham: in fact nothing since the Moldovan National Opera passed through in 2002 with a production of Norma. So I was thrilled to see this production of I Puritani from the New York Met's 2007 season. This, apparently, is a 30 year old production that was revived specially as a star vehicle for Anna Netrebko. We must be grateful to Miss Netrebko for having the pulling power to bring about this revival and it is fascinating to see such an old production with a set consisting of just a few steps in front of a painted backcloth of Olde England.

Anna Netrebko lives up to her star billing with a beautifully nuanced sound throughout her vocal range, with the low notes being as thrilling as the high. But this is not a one woman show, she is supported by an excellent tenor, Eric Cutler, as her cavalier lover Arturo and by baritones Franco Vassello as Arturo's roundhead rival Riccardo and John Relyea as her uncle Giorgio For what it is worth, this opera is a bit short of narrative drive and dramatic tension. All the characters are nice: Arturo, of course, is Mr Nice Guy but his rival Riccardo is a very polite villain and Uncle Giorgio is Mr Incredibly Nice Guy. The raison d'être of these bel canto pieces is for the heroine to lose her lover so that she can have a mad scene. Interestingly, as Beverly Sills points out during the interval, Bellini's mad scenes are much more demure than, say, Donizettis. At the height of her madness, Miss Netrebko very delicately lays herself down on the edge of the stage, so as not to crumple her dress and leans her head backwards over the orchestra pit as though she is about to kiss the Blarney stone. Visually, in this brief revival, the performances are of the stand and deliver variety. Sometimes singers appear not to know where they should be standing on stage or what they should be delivering. But none of this detracts from the superb vocal performances.

It is a rare pleasure to watch an opera that I have never seen before, without knowing how it ends. I was completely thrown by the Hollywood ending when I was expecting the usual bloodbath. My favourite line is when Cromwell's herald arrives and announces: "The Stuarts are defeated and the guilty are pardoned". Would that all wars could end that way.


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