Musically marvellous but the overall production is just good
Bellini's masterpiece to me will always be Norma, but along with La Sonnambula I Puritani is one of his better operas. Like Sonnambula the story is on the flimsy side of things, but the music from individual arias to ensembles is simply glorious. While I do consider the 2007 Met production the superior performance, this Teatro Del Liceu production is good and worth seeing.
In all honesty though, it is not that appealing visually. The costumes are quite nice and simple and there are moments of clever lighting, but the sets are very bleak and bare-looking complete with a drawbridge that is very over-simplistic. The staging isn't much better, it isn't without its good moments, but overall it is too sparse and the choreography for the likes of the first act women's chorus is very wooden.
On the plus side, it is photographed well, and the picture and audio quality are very good. The orchestral playing is stylish and energetic, while also allowing for some delicacy and dramatic intensity. The horns are especially good in this regard. The chorus are involved and dynamic, while Friedrich Haider never allows the energy or drama to lag, accommodates the principals with sensitivity and shapes the music musically.
Edita Gruberova is past her prime vocally with some signs of tiredness and flagging pitch, but there is evidence of lovely tone, well projected high notes especially in Vein, Diletto, E Un Ciel La Luna and great musicianship and phrasing. Even with Elvira's encroaching madness Gruberova succeeds in providing a subtle and beautifully acted portrayal. Jose Bros provides a good partner in Arturo, he doesn't have the most beautiful of voices and not all of his top register thrills but he is handsome and gallant and has good breath control and phrasing. They do balance very well together.
Carlos Alvarez is a superb Riccardo. His dark burnished baritone sound sounds strong without sounding too heavy for the music, and he oozes with authority. Simón Orfila may come across as rather young for an uncle figure, but he has a very pleasing resonant sound and is both sympathetic and authoritative. The two men bring the house down in Suoni La Tromba(one of the highlights of the score) as do Gruberova and Orfila in their duet together. Konstantin Gorny sings sonorously as Valton.
So in conclusion, a good production, disappointing visually but musically it is just marvellous. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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