Bellini: La sonnambula

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Bellini
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: La sonnambula
PERFORMER: Francesco Ellero d’Artegna, Luba Orgonasova, Raúl Giménez; Netherlands Radio CO & Choir/Alberto Zedda
CATALOGUE NO: 8.660042/3
For John Rosselli, in his excellent recent Life of Bellini, La sonnambula is an opera ‘without lapses’, ‘gravely simple, intimately tough’, qualities which, because built into the fabric of the music itself and not reliant on vocal allure alone, ought to emerge from even the most unsympathetic interpretation.

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Not that this recording of a single concert performance given five years ago to an audibly enthusiastic audience in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw is at all bad. The singing, despite the absence of a single native Italian, is never less than adequate, though, apart from the ever-reliable and stylish Raúl Giménez, rarely inspired. The Aminta (Luba Orgonasova), for instance, highly respectable as she is, is simply not in the Callas or Sutherland league.

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But not even the experienced direction of bel canto expert Alberto Zedda, who at least ensures a fair degree of momentum and the absence of embarrassing faux pas, can disguise the fact that this is a dramatically stillborn concert performance from a set of performers unused to working together over a period of time in the theatre. The chorus, in particular, presumably ranged along the back of the platform, though robust in tone, sound as if in another world. Antony Bye