Strong Cast Heads a Realistic Bellini Classic

07/02/2018

Bellini, I puritani: Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra of Lyric Opera of Chicago / Enrique Mazzola (conductor), Chicago. 4.2.2018. (JLZ)

Adrian Sâmpetrean, Lawrence Brownlee, Anthony Clark Evans, and Albina Shagimuratova in I puritani (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)

Adrian Sâmpetrean, Lawrence Brownlee, Anthony Clark Evans, and Albina Shagimuratova
in I puritani (c) Todd Rosenberg

Cast:
Elvira – Albina Shagimuratova
Arturo – Lawrence Brownlee
Riccardo – Anthony Clark Evans
Giorgio – Adrian Sâmpetrean

Production:
Conductor – Enrique Mazzola
Director – Eric Einhorn
Set Designer – Ming Cho Lee
Costume Designer – Peter J. Hall
Lighting Designer – Chris Maravich
Chorus Master – Michael Black

With its uniformly strong cast for Bellini’s I puritani, Lyric Opera of Chicago demonstrates the opera’s power. Among the leads, Lawrence Brownlee stood out, with his luxurious tenor and superb technique, making the sometimes treacherous passages of Arturo’s arias secure and expressive. He was spot-on for his first aria, A te, o cara’, delivering the lines with fervor, and the melismas with virtuoso clarity. His use of rubato gave the phrases and corresponding cadences suitable tension and panache.

Brownlee was similarly strong in the third-act ‘Corre a valle’, a response to Elvira’s ‘A una fonte afflitto’, and later, his ‘Credeasi, misera’ was a tour-de-force in bel canto style, with rich tones powerfully shaping each phrase, including a climactic high F.

As Elvira, Albina Shagimuratova delivered the role with studied accuracy. Her first-act aria ‘Sai com’arde in petto mio’ demonstrated her even range impressively, but in florid passages, she was not always able to clearly render the melismas. She was stronger in ‘Oh, vieni al tempio, fedele Arturo’, and the most memorable moment was the cabaletta at the end of Act III, ‘Ah! sento, o mio bell’angelo’, done with remarkable ease and focus.

The secondary roles were delivered with style. The Romanian bass Adrian Sâmpetrean persuasively sang the role of Giorgio, Elvira’s uncle, and left an even stronger impression than he did in last season’s Lucia di Lammermoor. In Act I, Sâmpetrean’s duet with Elvira gave the audience a taste of the power he would bring to Act II’s concluding ‘Suoni la tromba’. And Anthony Clark Evans delivered a full-bodied, resonant portrayal of Riccardo, Arturo’s rival for Elvira’s affection, and worked well with Sâmpetrean in the second act.

In addition, the chorus, directed by Michael Black, showed strong stage presence and ensemble, especially in the deft, stylish conclusions of the first and final acts. At times the offstage passages sounded slightly distorted, perhaps due to amplification, but on stage, the voices were unquestionably powerful. Conductor Enrique Mazzola brought additional virtues: firm leadership, good eye contact with those onstage, and a fine sense of rubato lend additional expressivity to some of the more prosaic passages.

For this 1976 production, originally from the Metropolitan Opera, Ming Cho Lee’s sets place the story firmly in the seventeenth century, and the realistic approach holds up well, almost filling up the Lyric stage. One small comment on the printed notes: I puritani is not a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, but a rather different animal, with its libretto by Carlo Pepoli, based on the drama Têtes Rondes et Cavalieres (Roundheads and Cavaliers) by Jacques-François Ancelot and Joseph Xavier Saintine.

James L. Zychowicz

Print Friendly

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 BBC Proms __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera Celebrates its 25th Anniversary with Nicolò Isouard’s Cinderella __________________________________
  • NEW! Pop-Up Opera’s 2018 Mozart Double Bill __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera in 2018/2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Let’s Dance International Frontiers (LDIF) 2018 Celebrates its Eighth Year __________________________________
  • NEW! Gloucester Choral Society’s Hubert Parry’s Centenary Celebrations in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Chess at the London Coliseum from 26 April for 5 Weeks __________________________________
  • NEW! The Three Choirs Festival 2018: A Preview __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Season at the Royal Opera House __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018 Cheltenham Music Festival – 30 June to 15 July __________________________________
  • NEW! Staatsoper Unter de Linden in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! St Petersburg Ballet Theatre Bring Swan Lake to London in August __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Ballet Announces its 2018-19 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Cleveland Orchestra’s 2018-19 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Booking Open for Longborough Festival Opera 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Additional Tickets Now Available for Nevill Holt Opera’s Le nozze di Figaro __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Four-Day Celebration of Art Song in April 2018 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! Chelsea Opera Group Perform Massenet’s Thaïs at the Cadogan Hall on 23 June __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Carly Paoli Sings for Chelsea Pensioners, at Cadogan Hall, and Signs for Sony/ATV __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • NEW! A First Charity Classical Music Concert at Finchcocks on 27 May __________________________________
  • NEW! MICHAEL SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! Trinity Laban Moves to Abolish All-Male Composer Concerts __________________________________
  • NEW! ARABELLA STEINBACHER IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella in Cinemas on 15 May with Live Q&A __________________________________
  • NEW! THE CONDUCTOR LAURENCE EQUILBEY IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! Newly Discovered Song by Alma Mahler to be Performed in Oxford and Newbury __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH LISETTE OROPESA AS SHE RETURNS TO LA OPERA FOR ORFEO ED EURIDICE __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH ANDREA CARÈ AS HE RETURNS TO COVENT GARDEN AS DON JOSÉ __________________________________
  • NEW! Rafael de Acha Introduces Some of Cincinnati’s New Musical Entrepreneurs __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month