Notes and Editorial Reviews
Sound Formats: DD 5.1 DTS 5.1 PCM-STEREO
Picture Format: 16:9
Subtitles: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish
Region Code: 0
Number of Discs: 1
Running Time: 138 minutes
Eva Mei (Amina)
José Bros (Elvino)
Giacomo Prestia (Il conte Rodolfo)
Nicoletta Curiel (Teresa)
Gemma Bertagnolli (Lisa)
Enrico Turco (Alessio)
Saverio Gambi (Un notaro)
Stage Director: Federico Tiezzi
Arthaus presents a remarkable staging of one of Bellini’s opera masterpieces on DVD: The wonderful singer-actor and coloratura soprano Eva Mei presents one of her showpieces - Amina, the sleep-walking heroine. She has sung the role all
over Italy, from Palermo to Turin and has been loved by audiences all over the world for her clear voice and her stage personality. Beside her, the Catalan tenor José Bros, a renowned Bellini specialist, repeats what Il giornale della musica described as his “secure and committed” performance in the role of Amina’s fiancé Elvino. But the show belongs to the heroine, and Eva Mei was praised in the same periodical for her “bel canto skill, her pure, radiant top notes and the resolute, yet unaffected and elegant way she dominates the stage.” This performance at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in 2004 is lead by the superb opera conductor, Daniel Oren, who has a long alliance with Italian opera houses and regularly conducts at the Arena di Verona.
Federico Tiezzi’s mind-opening approach to La Sonnambula was first seen at the Teatro Comunale in Florence in December 2000. It aroused enormous interest from the operatic world in Italy at the time as it offered a complete departure from the traditional narrative and visual vocabulary of conventional interpretations of La Sonnambula. The staging in no way conforms to the uncritical Swiss village idyll, where the opera is set. The plot usually centres on the typical chain of misunderstandings and misinterpretations between the lovers Amina and Elvino, which, after an initial separation finally leads to a happy ending. In Tiezzi’s interpretation, however, the whole piece seems to be taking place in the world of Amina’s dreams. Even before the music starts we see the sleep-walking Amina and can grasp a psychological subtext to the work. In moving the setting to the end of the 19th century, Tiezzi turns the mysterious “Count” - an elderly man, who returns to his village, into a character with Freudian resonance and Amina’s somnambulism becomes a metaphor for her subconscious rather than simply acting as the superficial source of misunderstandings on the part of her jealous fiancé, Elvino. When the sleep-walking Amina finds rest on the count’s red sofa, Elvino is not willing to accept her strange disposition as an excuse for being in another man’s chambers, but turns back to his former fiancée Lisa (whom he once gave up for Amina) as his prospective wife. Amina’s emotional turmoil, when Elvino mistrusts her truthfulness, is the main focus of this staging. Her aspirations – a perfect doll’s house of domesticity – seem to be shattered and her fear – that she will be ostracised by the community – come to the fore when her innocence is doubted and her fellow villagers point an accusatory finger at her.
In a coup de théâtre, Amina is sent on her death-defying sleep-walk across the collapsing bridge above the alpine ice – and it is only then that Elvino finally recognises Amina’s innocence and the couple can reunite.
Pier Paolo Bisleri’s painterly designs and Gabriella Pescucci’s fin-de-siècle costumes conjure up a host of associations from art and cinema. The filming of the production draws close to the characters thus bringing the emotional aspect of this opera and the excellent acting to the undisturbed attention of the viewer. Together with the highest quality in sound technique, this DVD provides a feast for ear and eye.
Works on This Recording
La sonnambula by Vincenzo Bellini
Eva Mei (Soprano),
Gemma Bertagnolli (Soprano),
Enrico Turco (Baritone),
Nicoletta Curiel (Mezzo Soprano),
Giacomo Prestia (Baritone),
José Bros (Tenor)
Florence Maggio Musicale Orchestra,
Florence Maggio Musicale Chorus
Written: 1831; Italy
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