I puritani by Vincenzo Bellini
I puritini, or the Puritans, is a beautiful opera composed by the music mastermind Vincenzo Bellini. |At the time of its creation, Italian composers were increasingly fond of using England and English matters for their operas. Most composers based their works on the novels by Sir Walter Scott.
Originally the part of Elvira was produced for the celebrated mezzo-soprano Maria-Felicia Malibran. It was she who contributed to the amazing success of I puritani, but once she left the opera quickly fell into oblivion until singers such as and Lilli Lehmann and Maria Callas took on the role in the 1950s and 1960s.
A ‘melodramma serio’ in three parts, the libretto was produced by Carlo Pepoli. It premiered on the 24th January 1835 in Paris at the Theatre Italien. It is set in Plymouth, England, around the time of 1650.
Lord Gualtiero Valton, the Puritan governor general (Bass)
Sir Giorgio, his brother and former Puritan colonel (Bass)
Lord Arturo Talbo, a Cavalier and supporter of the Stuarts (Tenor)
Sir Riccardo Forth, a Puritan captain (Baritone)
Sir Bruno Robertson, a Puritan officer (Tebor)
Elvira, the daughter of Lord Valton (Soprano)
Enrichetta di Francia/Queen Henrietta Maria, widow of King Charles I aka Dama di Villa Fortte (Soprano)
Soldiers, puritans, garrison of the castle and ladies (the chorus)
Inside Lord Valton’s house, celebrations are under way for his daughter Elvira’s wedding. Originally she was supposed to marry the Puritan Riccardo, but her kindly uncle Giorgio has given her permission to marry her beloved Arturo, who is the supporter of the Stuart enemy. Whilst the celebrations are under way, Arturo discovers a prisoner – the widow of the executed Stuart king, Charles I. Duty must come before love, and Arturo helps the queen escape from the house. Elvira, not knowing the reasons why he has left the wedding becomes deranged.
Everyone at the house has become concerned about Elvira. Her uncle Giorgio believes that only with good news she will become better so he asks for compassion from Riccardo. Riccardo, however, renounces any claims to Elvira’s hand and instead, joins the Puritan army.
Arturo has been sentenced to death but secretly makes his way back to the house. When Elvira meets with her beloved she gains her senses but Arturo is caught and arrested. With this, Elvira sinks into depression once more. Arturo is pardoned at the last moment, Elvira regains her senses once more and the couple finally celebrate their marriage.