Notes and Editorial Reviews
For one of Bellini's less popular works, I Capuleti has seen a remarkable number of recordings, with some of the starriest stars in the operatic firmament taking part. A self-recommending and self-damning bastardized version from the 1960s in which the role of Romeo was transposed from mezzo to tenor (by Claudio Abbado) can still be found with Giacomo Aragall as Romeo, Renata Scotto (or Margarita Rinaldi, in another pirate) as Giulietta, and Luciano Pavarotti as Tebaldo. Muti's set with Gruberova and Baltsa manages to be both exciting and sterile at the same time, a couple of other entries have come and gone (where is the Sills?), and the only competition for this current release is RCA's with the marvelous, expressive Vesalina Kasarova as
Romeo and the pretty, fragile Giulietta of Eva Mei. But for my ears, this one, handsomely led by Donald Runnicles, takes the lead.
As much as I love Kasarova's finely nuanced, by turns sarcastic and loving Romeo, Jennifer Larmore sings her out of the water. Larmore has usually struck me as too aggressive a singer; her watch-me-do-anything apple-pie-ness has tended to get in the way of her interpretations. But here that aggressiveness pays off: Romeo, partucularly in his opening scene, must appear the dominant male and Larmore's self-assurance is just the thing. She's all the more moving, therefore, when she scales herself back in the shattering final scene (certainly some of the most beautiful music ever penned), where sorrow and tenderness are the passwords. Her Giulietta, Hei-Kyung Hong, is a remarkable surprise. This soprano has gone from soubrette to full-blown lyric without losing the freshness and bloom of her voice, and her Giulietta is not just sweet and innocent, but urgent and passionate, as much the seducer of Romeo as the seduced. Paul Groves joins a nice line of good Tebaldos on CD, and distinguishes himself by his relentless energy and focus. All three leads embellish their vocal lines appropriately and surprisingly--they seem spontaneous. Raymond Aceto and Robert Lloyd in the two bass parts sound a bit like steel wool, but never mind. Looking for a Capuleti? This one will give you the opera's pathos and passion.
-- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com [3/15/2000]
Works on This Recording
I Capuleti e i Montecchi by Vincenzo Bellini
Robert Lloyd (Bass),
Hong Hei-Kyung (Soprano),
Jennifer Larmore (Mezzo Soprano),
Paul Groves (Tenor),
Raymond Aceto (Bass)
Scottish Chamber Orchestra,
Scottish Chamber Chorus
Written: 1830; Italy
Date of Recording: 07/1998
Venue: Usher Hall, Edinburg, Scotland
Length: 125 Minutes 52 Secs.
Featured Sound Samples
Act I: "Ah, crudel, d'onor ragioni"
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