Bellini Il Pirata

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COMPOSERS: Vincenzo Bellini
LABELS: Opera Rara
ALBUM TITLE: Bellini Il Pirata
WORKS: Il pirata
PERFORMER: Ludovic Tézier, Carmen Giannattasio, José bros, Mark Le Brocq, Brindley Sherratt, Victoria Simmonds; Geoffrey Mitchell Choir/Renato Balsadonna; London Philharmonic Orchestra/David Parry


Il pirata is Bellini’s third opera, an uneven work with numerous choruses that might have been written by several of his gifted contemporaries. The plot’s central character, Imogene, has two men in her life; she is married to one yet falls for the other with disastrous consequences. It’s pretty generic stuff, but Bellini takes the opportunity to do what he does best, writing long, sinuous melodies, usually for soprano, that are among the most moving in the repertoire.

But the music needs virtuoso singers, and on this recording doesn’t quite get them. Carmen Giannattasio, a highly effective Mimì at Covent Garden earlier this year, has a voice that hardens under pressure; she manages all the notes, but with little in the way of varying expression. Her beloved Gualtiero is the tenor José Bros, but it really needs to be Juan Diego Flórez. The villain Ernesto has some devilish coloratura which Ludovic Tézier can’t cope with. All of them would be better if the conducting were more galvanising: David Parry keeps things moving but nothing more.


Michael Tanner