Puritans in Madrid

I keep trying with Bellini’s I Puritani.  People I respect admire it a lot but I just cannot find a way to like it despite there being, undoubtedly, some very fine music in Acts 2 and 3.  I think there are, essentially, two problems and I could maybe cope with either in isolation but taken together my brain just starts to turn off.  The first is plot and there are two huge problems with this piece.  It’s complete garbage historically.  It makes Donizetti’s Tudor operas look like Geoffrey Elton.  But worse, it makes no sense in it’s own terms.  It’s just a string of improbable coincidences.  The second problem is emotional dissonance.  Too often the emotional tenor of the music is just way inappropriate to the stage action.  This is common to all bel canto of course and on its own I can deal.  I just can’t take the two things together.

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Babes in bodices

After a less than satisfactory introduction to Donizetti’s Anna Bolena in a MetHD broadcast last year it was with some trepidation that I approached the DVD version recorded at the Wiener Staatsoper and also starring Anna Netrebko.  I need not have worried because it’s very good indeed.  It has a stronger cast, Eric Genovese’s relatively simple production trumps David McVicar’s overstuffed effort and Evelino Pido doesn’t try and make the orchestra sound like it’s playing Wagner.  The sound on the DVD is also way better than it was on that broadcast.

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