Bellini: La Sonnambula

COMPOSERS: Bellini
LABELS: EuroArts DVD
ALBUM TITLE: Bellini: La Sonnambula
WORKS: La sonnambula
PERFORMER: Ana Durlovski etc; Staatsopernchor & Staatsorchester Stuttgart/Gabriele Ferro; dir. Jossi Wieler & Sergio Morabito
CATALOGUE NO: DVD: 2059338 blu-ray: 2059334

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Bellini’s opera semiseria is sometimes written off as simple-minded, its tale of a village girl who sleepwalks into a compromising situation and is then rejected by her betrothed and the other villagers considered naive and even silly. But when taken seriously, as it is in this 2013 Stuttgart production, it reveals depths that are at least partly deliberately hidden.

On the eve of her wedding, Amina wakes up in a room in the village inn where the older Count Rodolfo is staying. Although never quite stated, it is apparent from hints in the libretto that Rodolfo is Amina’s natural father, who absconded after making a local girl pregnant. Amina has been brought up by Teresa; we never hear of her real mother’s fate.

Directors Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito identify this missing character with the ghost all the villagers see; that’s usually taken to be Amina’s sleepwalking self, but as Morabito points out, Amina claims to have seen it herself. Here the additional non-singing role becomes a regularly disturbing presence. The directors darken the ending considerably by suggesting that it is Amina’s fate to repeat her mother’s.

The result is fascinating even if
at times over-earnest, and performed here with commitment by a near impeccable cast. Anna Viebrock’s 1950s designs come up with precision on Blu-ray, though the sound is limited in both editions. Ana Durlovski’s soprano may be
on the gaunt side, but she has all the notes for the title role. A fine actor, tenor Luciano Botelho makes a complex figure of her fiancé, Elvino. Gabriele Ferro conducts with an authentic sense of style.

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George Hall