Bellini | I Puritani
New BLO production. Sung in Italian with projected English translation.
May 2, 4m, 7, 9, 11m, 2014 at the Citi Performing Arts CenterSM Shubert Theatre.
Evening performances at 7:30pm. Matinees (m) at 3pm. New BLO production
Elvira has been promised to one man, but loves another. When she believes the object of her affection has betrayed her, she descends into madness. Bellini’s bel canto gem unfolds during a tumultuous English civil war and features mad scenes filled with pathos and achingly beautiful music.
Troy Cook and Paul Whelan are the men trying to arrange marriage for Elvira. John Tessier and Sarah Coburn, acclaimed for their roles in BLO’s The Barber of Seville, sing the roles of the lovers with Coburn delivering the famous tour de force soprano arias.
|Stage Director||Crystal Manich|
|Set Designer||John Conklin|
|Costume Designer||Catherine Zuber|
|Lighting Designer||Paul Hackenmueller|
|Wigs and Makeup Designer||Jason Allen|
#BLO Emerging Artist
I Puritani is set in the Puritan fortress at Plymouth during the English Civil War. The Puritans, led by Oliver Cromwell, have inflicted a crushing defeat on troops loyal to Charles I (the Cavaliers) and taken parliamentary power. Although the King has been tried and executed (his widow, Henrietta, plays a significant role in the opera) the Cavaliers fight on.
But the main thrust of the opera lies not to so much this specific historical context but in its dramatic and expressively poignant music and its vivid psychological study of an emotionally vulnerable woman physically and mentally isolated within a rigidly militaristic world of men. She is caught up, with them, in the brutalizing confusion and chaos of a civil war that can destroy the passions of the heart.
I Puritani was written in three acts – the BLO production will be played in two parts with one intermission. I Puritani will be sung in Italian. The equivalent (sung) Italian names appear in the synopsis in parenthesizes.
The Puritan governor Lord Walton (Lord Gualterio Valton) had promised his daughter Elvira to Sir Richard Forth (Sir Riccardo Forth) a captain in his army but persuaded by his brother George (Sir Giorgio Valton) that she is desperately in love with a cavalier – Sir Arthur Talbot (Lord Arturo Talbo) agrees to the marriage in spite of the political consequences. Richard is deeply frustrated and bitterly angry at the decision while Elvira is surprised at her father’s change of heart but obviously overjoyed. The wedding is prepared and Arthur arrives for the ceremony. Walton explains that he must take a female political prisoner who has been held in the fortress to London to stand trial. Arthur recognizes her as Henrietta (Enrichetta di Francia) widow of the executed King. To save her from certain death, he smuggles her out of the castle by disguising her in Evira’s wedding veil and passing her off as his bride to be. Richard surprises them, challenges Arthur to a duel but in the end but allows them to pass hoping thereby to forever disgrace his rival. Elvira informed of their escape can only assume that Arthur has cruelly humiliated and publicly betrayed her and her confused mind begins to splinter. She sees herself as the figure of the white- veiled Henrietta (“He looks at her and call her his bride – Is Elvira the lady? Am I no longer Elvira”) She deliriously imagines the happy transports of the wedding but then she berates Arthur’s cruelty and treachery and cries out – ” Cruel man do you abandon me who loves you so much? Burning wrath sweeps through me…fury tears my heart….this burning fever will destroy me.”
Arthur has been condemned to death for treason. George sees Elvira senseless with despair, weeping, unable to find any relief – wandering aimlessly – now joyfully recreating her lost marriage ceremony and her passionate reunion with Arthur – now bemoaning her happiness seeming lost forever. He implores Richard to put aside his hatred and vengeful pursuit and to save Arthur’s life fearing that Elvira will die of grief if she should learn of his death. The passion of his appeal wins over Richard and he agrees.
Arthur having led Henrietta to safety, returns to Plymouth to reunite with Elvira. Although closely pursued by puritan soldiers, he makes contact with her and explains the real reason for his sudden disappearance. Comforted, she regains her lucidity for a time but her mental stability has been shattered and suddenly relapsing into delusion she has a vision that Arthur will desert her once again. She calls for the soldiers who arrest him and take him to be executed, but word of a pardon arrives and it seems that Arthur is saved and can be united with Elvira.