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Neil Fisher
Gramophone, June 2019

BELLINI, V.: Puritani (I) [Opera] (Staatsoper Stuttgart, 2018) (NTSC) 2.110598-99
BELLINI, V.: Puritani (I) [Opera] (Staatsoper Stuttgart, 2018) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0093V

It is a testament to the depth of talent in Stuttgart’s ensemble that its company bass Adam Palka can make such a good fist of Giorgio, Elvira’s dominant confidant. …Palka nonetheless sings with focus and nobility and, partnered by Myshketa, that barnstorming duet ‘Suoni la tromba’ still sparks shivers. © 2019 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Opera, May 2019

Manilo Benzi’s conducting is idiomatic and accommodating of his soloists, and the chorus is very good. © 2019 Opera

David Denton
David's Review Corner, May 2019

Though Bellini was one of the most successful opera composers of the early 19th century, he had a very short life, dying aged 34 shortly after completing I Puritani. That left many question marks as to a definitive score, as he had already realised it was a long opera, and with some ‘show-stopping’ arias and a quartet that demanded encores, he would have to make cuts. Even at the rehearsal stage these were regarded as such great moments that he was persuaded to divide the second act into two parts. All of this took place in Paris, his temporary home, and he was faced with rewriting the opera for its Italian premiere to use two celebrated singers of the day. For these filmed performances in Stuttgart, it was decided to return to the 1835 Paris version which runs for around three hours and five minutes. The subsequent fame of the opera was not without is fluctuations in the twentieth century, and it was the arrival of Maria Callas who brought it new life and interest in the work, a star-studded La Scala cast placing it on a celebrated disc release that was reissued on the Naxos Historical label. The story is set in England around 1650, at a time when the country was torn apart by a civil war between Royalist Cavaliers and Puritan Roundheads. In the Puritan stronghold Elvira is about to be married to Arturo, much to the chagrin of Riccardo who had once been promised her hand in marriage by her father. During the preparations for the wedding Arturo discovers that one of the other women in the fortress is the Royal Queen who has been condemned to death, and in pity he decides to lead her from the fortress and to freedom masked by Elvira’s wedding veil. Elvira believes he has betrayed her and looses her reason. And so the story ends with Cromwell in power and all his enemies pardoned, including Arturo. The Stage Directors and Dramaturgs is in the hands of Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito, who, together with costumes by Anna Viebrock, leave you wondering when the opera was supposed to have taken place, but with one simple set, it thankfully does not enter the bizarre world of today’s opera productions, but keeps a relationship with reality. The casting is very good with the Macedonian soprano, Ana Durlovski, making light of Bellini’s demands, and she has beside her a genuine high tenor, the American, Rene Barbera, as Arturo. I was particularly pleased to hear the fine Polish bass, Adam Palka, as Giorgio, with Gezim Myshketa a suitably down-trodden, Riccardo. The virile chorus are asked to perform some peculiar dance routines, while the orchestra, that looks of modest size, play admirably, the conductor, Manlio Benzi, keeping the action progressing at an admirable pace. The filming, made in 2018, is a nice mix of full stage and close ups, the colour definition in Blu-ray—which I have used for this review—is excellent. Among the recent opera DVDs I have seen this one is highly recommended. © 2019 David’s Review Corner

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