LABELS: Millennium Opera Edition
WORKS: I puritani
PERFORMER: Beverly Sills, Heather Begg, Richard Van Allan, Paul Plishka, Nicolai Gedda, Louis Quilico, Riccardo CassinelliAmbrosian Opera Chorus, LPO/Julius Rudel
CATALOGUE NO: MCD 80356 ADD
Bellini’s last and perhaps greatest opera has been fortunate on disc. Recorded by EMI in 1953, Callas and Di Stefano were somewhat too rough, and the score was heavily cut. However, the two Joan Sutherland recordings on Decca, both splendidly conducted by Richard Bonynge, are well worth acquiring. And now a performance recorded in 1973 has finally arrived on CD. Beverly Sills is an intense Elvira, in the Callas mould but easier on the ear. She makes the most of ‘Qui la voce’, one of the most affecting of those 19th-century mad scenes, and offers a strong characterisation throughout the opera.
Louis Quilico and Paul Plishka are fine as Riccardo and Giorgio, and Julius Rudel conducts, with a clear sense of the work’s style, the complete Ricordi score (plus the cabaletta Bellini composed for a Naples performance with Malibran). The most exciting performance comes from Nicolai Gedda as Arturo. He has all the elegance that the role calls for, as well as the necessary high notes, even producing in ‘Credeasi, misera’ a high F à la Rubini. Highly recommended. Charles Osborne