Opéra Bastille - from 07 September to 05 October 2019
3h15 with 1 interval
Language : Italian
Surtitle : French / English
Opening night : 7 Septembrer 2019
In few words:
“Opera must make audiences weep, tremble and die” said Bellini to Pepoli as he set out to delve into a sombre romanticism peopled with diaphanous heroines for the subject of his libretto. Depicting the love between a royalist and the daughter of a republican succumbing to madness, I Puritani is Bellini’s last opera: a perilous work for which Laurent Pelly offers us a production à la Piranesi, as precise and incisive as is this great monument of bel canto.
The action is set near Plymouth in seventeenth-century England, after the execution of King Charles I, at the time of the civil war between the Puritans – Republicans and supporters of Oliver Cromwell – and the Cavaliers– loyal to monarchy and the Stuarts.
Lord Walton’s daughter, Elvira, is in love with Arturo, a Cavalier loyal to the Stuarts, but his father has promised her to Riccardo Forth, like him an ally of Cromwell. Back from combat, Riccardo learns that Lord Walton has broken his promise and expresses his grief. Giorgio, Elvira’s uncle, informs the young woman that he has interceded on her behalf with his brother for her to marry Arturo who, with a safe-conduct, has just entered the castle and runs into the arms of his beloved. However, Lord Walton is preparing to escort a mysterious female prisoner to Parliament. Left alone for a moment with her, Arturo recognizes Queen Henrietta, the widow of Charles I. She has been sentenced to death. He kneels at her feet and swears to save her. Elvira reappears, her thoughts filled with her coming happiness. She tries out her bridal veil on the prisoner’s head. Arturo suggests using this disguise to save the queen. In their flight, they meet Riccardo who recognizes the fugitive yet lets her escape with Arturo seeing it as a means to win back Elvira. The latter, believing herself betrayed, feels her reason abandon her.
Giorgio describes Elvira’s despair and bewilderment, while Riccardo reports that Arturo has been sentenced by Parliament. Elvira appears, delirious. Giorgio begs Riccardo to spare his rival. If Arturo must perish, it should be on the battlefield. The two men sing a patriotic duo.
Arturo, who has escaped his pursuers, lurks beneath the windows of his fiancée. Elvira, recognizing him, seems to recover her reason for an instant and joins her voice with that of her lover. Arturo justifies his flight by the need to save the queen. Elvira returns to her folly when the soldiers surround them. Arturo’s condemnation is proclaimed. In vain he begs for clemency in the name of Elvira, when a messenger comes to announce the defeat of the Stuarts and amnesty for all their supporters. The sudden shock of happiness brings back Elvira’s reason. There is nothing more to prevent to couple’s union.
Opera in three parts
After J. F. Ancelot et J. X. Boniface dit Saintine, Têtes rondes et cavaliers - 1835