Bellini’s I Puritani
Dec 28, 2006 9:07 pm
The plot of Bellini’s I Puritani is confused and confusing, not to mention bad history. In general it is an opera that takes place during a civil war and is about a similar conflict within a community and certain individuals. But the best way to approach I Puritani is to forget the plot. This is an opera about an emotional crisis—about love, loyalty and commitment that breaks down and is eventually resolved. It is essentially a vehicle for a great singer to show what she can do.
Bellini himself summarized it well in a letter to his librettist as they started working on Puritani:
“If my music proves beautiful and the opera is a success you can write endless letter declaring how composers mistreat poetry, but you will have proved nothing. Engrave this on your mind in indelible letters: ‘In opera it is the singing that must move people to tears, must make them shudder and die.'”
If you want to learn something about the English Civil War, religious strife in the 17th Century or see a well-made theatrical work you will be disappointed. If you want to see one of the great modern singing actresses take on one of the most challenging roles in the operatic repertory you could hardly be disappointed. This opera does not get revived very often and this production has been put together especially for Anna Netrebko. I suspect this performance will be discussed and debated for years–with inevitable comparisons to Callas in the 1950’s or Sutherland in the 1970’s. So I think it would be well worth the ticket.