Bellini: I puritani

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

WORKS: I puritani
PERFORMER: Montserrat Caballé, Alfredo Kraus, Matteo Manuguerra; Ambrosian Opera Chorus, Philharmonia Orchestra/Riccardo Muti
CATALOGUE NO: CMS 7 69663 2 DDDReissue
This Puritani, first released in 1980, was issued on CD in 1988. The difference with this reissue lies in the welcome provision of an English translation of the text. Muti truly makes his mark on Bellini’s Romantic, sweeping score and vocal lines, giving the whole opera a compelling pulse and dramatic edge. Puritani, Bellini’s last opera, written in 1835, contains some of the most fiendishly difficult coloratura for the soprano and tenor. Caballé and Kraus’s performances are superb. Caballé’s magical, floated timbre superbly delivers Elvira’s first-act ‘Son vergin vezzosa’, her second-act mad scene and the exquisite cabaletta ‘Vien, diletto’. Kraus gives Arthur a strong presence and glorious vocal sound in his Act I and Act III arias and the pair’s impassioned final duet, ‘Vieni fra questa braccia’ – including two stunning top Ds from Kraus – is spine-tingling. Manuguerra as Richard and Agostino Ferrin as George provide more pedestrian performances but, with Muti’s help, their duet ‘Suoni la tromba’ is brimming with heroism and martial fervour. Julia Hamari’s Henrietta is understated, but compelling. The ensemble work, so crucial to this work, is propelled and paced beautifully throughout by Muti, with the orchestra and chorus in excellent form. Elise McDougall