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Vincenzo Bellini: La Sonnambula
Nathalie Dessay (Amina), Juan Diego Flórez (Elvino), Jennifer Black (Lisa), Jeremy Galyon (Alessio), Jane Bunnel (Teresa), Bernard Fitch (Notary), Michele Pertusi (Count Rodolfo), The Metropolitan Opera, Chorus and Ballet, Donald Palumbo (Chorus Master), Elvino Pidò (Conductor), Mary Zimmerman (Production), Daniel Ostling (Set Designer), Mara Blumenfeld (Costume Designer), T.J. Gerckens (Lighting Designer), Daniel Pelzig (Choreographer), Barbara Willis Sweete (Video Director), Deborah Voigt (Host)
Filmed at the Metropolitan Opera, New York (March 21, 2009) – 138’
DECCA Ref. #: B00 13885-09 – Picture format 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen – Sound LPCM Stereo, DTS 5.1 Surround – Region Code: 0 – DVD format NTSC – Subtitles in English, French, German, Spanish, and Chinese – Booklet in English

Mary Zimmerman may have earned a creditable reputation as a theater director and playwright, scooping a Tony Award® in 2002 for best direction with her own play Metamorphoses, but she is fairly new to opera. So far, her contributions to this musical genre have been inconclusive, to say the least. Is it that she does not like bel canto – then why stage it? – or, worse but more likely, that she is unfamiliar with the operatic genre, period? After an arguable Lucia di Lammermoor in 2007 at the Met, Zimmerman, with La Sonnambula, crosses the line and literally sabotages Bellini's opera. At curtain call, on opening night, she is greeted by a flurry of disapproving hisses from a mostly discombobulated audience. For details on all the non-sense and twaddle occurring on stage read here.

Luckily, the singers redeem the production, as uncomfortable as they are with some of its silliness. Flórez is a stylish technician, with such a tangy, appealing timbre, and impressive command of bel canto style. Dessay holds up to her reputation as one the most riveting coloratura soprano, with enviable sparkling notes in the "Ah! non giunge" cabaletta. Supporting roles are just as commendable with Michele Pertusi as Count Rodolfo, Jane Bunnel as Teresa, and Jennifer Black as Lisa.

Conductor Elvino Pidò does a satisfactory job never overwhelming Flórez' and Dessay's light voices, at least with the help of a good sound engineer. The image is perfect, and the production is well filmed by video director Barbara Willis Sweete, but in view of what has been said about the stage direction, a CD would have been a better choice.

Christian Dalzon




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