Vincenzo Bellini: I puritani
Ugo Guagliardo (Lord Gualtiero Valton), Ildebrando D'Arcangelo (Sir Giorgio Valton), Juan Diego Flórez (Lord Arturo Talbo), Gabriele Viviani (Sir Riccardo Forth), Gianluca Floris (Sir Bruno Roberton), Nadia Pirazzini (Enrichetta di Francia), Nino Machaidze (Elvira)
Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Communale di Bologna, Michele Mariotti (conductor), Pier'Alli (Director/Costumes and Sets Designer/Lighting Designer), Daniele Naldi (co-Lighting Designer), Andrea Bevilacqua (TV Director)
Filmed at Teatro Communale di Bologna (2009) – 174'
DECCA Ref. #: B00114859-09 – Picture Format 16:9 - Anamorphic Widescreen - DVD1: LPCM Stereo - DVD2: DTS 5.1 Surround – Region Code: 0 – Sung in Italian – Subtitles in English, French, Spanish, German – Booklet in English
Not only is this Teatro Communale di Bologna, Teatro Massimo di Palermo, and Teatro Lirico di Cagliari co-production of Bellini's I puritani stylish in all senses of the term (an upper-class direction where nothing is left to chance or improvisation, where every movement and gesture of the chorus and soloists has been carefully designed, crafted, and rehearsed, with dramatic lighting and sets, stunning costumes - except Flórez'! - and first class singing), but it is also, and more importantly, a critical edition (owed to musicologist Fabrizio Della Seta) that restores passages dropped out by Bellini before the Paris première: the Act 1 trio for Arturo, Enrichetta and Riccardo ("Se il destino a te m'invola"), a part of Arturo and Elvira's duet in Act 3, Scene 2 ("Ah! Perdona... ell'era misera"), and the whole of the Andante sostenuto cantabile ("Da quel dì che ti mirai"), and finally the Act 3, Scene 3 cabaletta for Elvira and Arturo ("Ah! Sento, o mio bell' angelo")*.
The cast is irreproachable, and most protagonists artfully cope with an acute sense of Bellinian style and its long sentences. Vocally, Juan Diego Flórez is in perfect shape, but unfortunately dons the strangest and unbecoming gear, wig, fake moustache and goatee. Opposite the Peruvian tenor, rising star Georgian soprano Nino Machaidze is a fresh and bright Elvira, with luminous high notes and a delightful phrasé. Gabriele Viviani has an incredible stage presence, and quite an appealing barytone. He delivers his part with unquestionable style. Nadia Pirazzini's warm mezzo does justice to the short part of Enrichetta di Francia. The chorus is remarkably well trained, while Maestro Mariotti draws a crisp, expressive sound from his musicians.
A superb, even cast where everyone is at the right place and delivers a compelling performance, with the support of an inspired, meticulous director, and a distinguished conductor attentive to detail and pointing of rhythm.
The filming by Andrea Bevilacqua is also praiseworthy. Besides traditional video cameras, Bevilacqua uses motion-cameras that encompass the entire stage and plunge the viewer right in the middle of the action. The effect is striking. Likewise, sound engineers Chris Hills, Bill Keskinen, and Ed Szymanski must be commended for producing a sound of excellent quality.
This DVD is an event of major importance in the history of I puritani.
* Courtesy of Giovanni Gavazzeni (booklet notes)