Bel canto operas are famous for the demands placed upon singers, but in I Puritani, Vincenzo Bellini pushed these boundaries even further – with thrilling results. In this first-night performance of the Met’s revival of Sandro Sequi’s 1976 production – enhanced by Ming Cho-Lee’s mostly flat-painted scenery – the cast rose to the challenge with one impressive vocal display after another.
As the fragile maiden Elvira, Diana Damrau delivered an engrossing portrayal. Her rosy soprano is ideally suited to spinning Bellini’s long and languishing melodies and she consistently sent crystalline top notes soaring. She captured the essence of Elvira’s youthful innocence, making her descent into madness believable and devastating.
Opposite Damrau, Javier Camarena was the ardent yet politically-conflicted Arturo. His honeyed timbre and ringing high notes were on full display. From the passionate opening aria he was in his element, and although opting not to take the high F in Act Three, he radiated warmth and masterfully refined focus.
Alexey Markov completed the love-triangle as the vindictive Riccardo, his robust and confident baritone flowing effortlessly. As Giorgio, Luca Pisaroni’s oaky bass-baritone blossomed, his rousing ‘Suoni la tromba’ duet with Markov at the close of Act Two a highlight.
Under Maurizio Benini, the Met Orchestra offered clean and agile playing, and the Met Chorus was imposing and mellifluous.
- Broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 at 6 p.m. on Saturday February 18 (available on iPlayer for thirty days thereafter)
- Metropolitan Opera www.metoperafamily.org/metopera