Diva in Decline.... But still puts on a good show
Eddie Logan | Cincinnati Ohio | 06/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In my mind I Puritani is the most BELCANTO of all the Italian repertory, it is all about the long flowing melodies, fast cabalettas and repeated high notes. So it shouldn't be any surprise that Bellini had four of the greatest singers in mind while writing it. In fact they ended up with the nickname of Puritani Quartet. I am presenting some of this just to warn you it is extremely difficult music to sing, the few recording of this work are only attempted when a first rate cast can be put together... the soprano role (with the memory of Callas and Sutherland fresh in mind) is littered with high eflats and two octave runs. The tenor role is famous or rather infamous for the high F that is usually sang in falsetto or skipped altogether, but it also has high C's and D's throughout.
I Puritani is a goldmine of endless melodies and beautiful music. Lets get down to this performance. This is the fist time that I have witnessed Gruberova noticeably having vocal problems. She has been 30 years of rock solid coloratura! So in a way it was sort of sad to watch her struggle through Son vergin vezzosa missing the high E flat ending... or the pause before attempting the final note of Ma tu gia fuggi... or the fact that she skipped the ending aria Ah! sento o mio bell'angelo. That said it was truly amazing to watch her mad scene, she was minus some intonation problems... WONDERFUL BRAVO! And it was a pleasure to see her and hear her at her best. Just for those 17 mins this DVD is worth the price. After I got past the above problems, I have to admit that her performance was really remarkable, it is a tough opera and seeing some of the singers currently singing I am glad Gruberova's performance was captured and released. As for the rest of the cast... they are not in the same league as the Diva. Bros has a nice warm tenor, but I think this role might be stretch for him the high D's were good but there was no attempt at the high F. Then again, what singer today would sing the high F (we miss you Pavarotti). Haider and the rest were good, not great, but good and the tempos seemed for the most part to help the singers cope with the heavy demands. I would have to recommend this recording to anyone who like belcanto opera or coloratura divas there is at least one good high E for you to enjoy."
Opinions will vary on this one
Robert Petersen | Durban, South Africa | 05/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Whether you are a Gruberova fan or not, you will love this production of Bellini's opera. With minimal sets (which work effectively), the 'static' nature of this opera is well conveyed. Haider conducts the orchestra and chorus of the Liceu, Barcelona and soloists Carlos Alvarez, Simon Orfila and Jose Bros give excellent accounts of their parts. Gruberova is clearly the star of this show and the audience love her. For her age, she sings excellently, even besides a few moments of patchy pitch and tone. I actually saw her sing this role in Munich a year earlier and she was just as good, if not better. Opinions will vary between opera lovers about the merits of this production. I love it, hence the 5 star rating."
A respectable Bellinian tribute. . .
Miguel Galvez Fuentes | Monterrey, NL MEX | 07/25/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The production is a traditional staging from the Gran Teatro de Liceu de Barcelona, very effective considering the lead new productions have taken in the past 10 years (this is a 2003 live recording). Friedrich Haider baton is equilibrated his tempos are just accurate according the original partitura.
Gruberova as Elvira is pretty well, she doesn't looks in her 30's but she certainly is in good shape, no wobbling (which is typical in some sopranos reaching the 50's) seems that the experience gained through her career gives her the authority to handle the role; she is a committed and believable Elvira.
Jose Bros is a tenor with a bright tone and good singing technique his high register sounds both sweet and warm yet he is cautious when facing the hard parts of the role (I prefer a lyric voice with solid high register and over all, determination and courage to hit the notes, like for instance the young Pavarotti and the Swedish great tenor Nicolai Gedda). He gets through his "A te o cara" with some effort, in his duo of the third act "Vieni, vieni fra queste braccia" he just gives a quick peak in the high note and goes down a bit hurried (?). In the final act essemble "Credese a misera" he avoids the original written "Fa" for the tenor. In general he does not cover the role requirements at all but his accomplishment is acceptable.
Carlos Alvarez holds a young powerful Riccardo with a ringing beatiful tone. I really like this baritone he is into his role and does not hesitate.
Simone Orfila is in charge of Giorgio even though he is very young for this role owns the voice to convince, a beautiful tone and strength.
Konstantin Gorny gives an authority Valton with his deep and surrounding bass tone.
Memorable parts: Elvira's aria of the first act and her duo with Giorgio at the end of it, simply fabulous. The great and heroic second act Giorgio and Riccardo's duo. "Suoni la tromba".
As a summary, since no many other alternatives are available on video, this has become a real good option to live the intensity of this amazing Bellini's work. AND GO FOR IT!
Francesco Alvarez | 12/15/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Bellini's last opera I Puritani is perhaps one of the most beautiful "bel canto operas" ever composed and a tremendous challenge for both the soprano and the tenor. After reading in this blog some of the comments about this production of the Gran Teatre del Liceu of Barcelona I was a bit reluctant of buying it. However my love for this opera and for Edita Gruberova's art made me take the risk and, at the end, I was not dissapointed at all. It is true that the stage production is quite dark and boring with extremely simple scenaries, but puritans were austere people and the mood set by the plot is rather dark by itself. Tenor José Bros gets better toward the end although I do not particularly fancy his voice. On the other hand Carlos Alvarez and Simón Orfila do a fine job, they are not only excellent singers but also very good actors. The duo "Suoni la Tromba", between these two characters, is plenty of power and beauty. However, who really steals the show here is Edita Gruberova who, in spite of her overweigth, overage for the role and overacting make you forget all those "minor details" with her out-of-this-world singing. She is particularly amazing in the madness scene in the second act. I had to listen it several times because I could not believe what I thought was an audio illusion. In the colorature, her voice sounds like a musical instrument and reminds me those virtuoso passages of Paganini violin concerti. In spite of my personal dislike for Bros voice I have to admit that there is a sort of chemistry between him and Edita Gruberova that is more evident in the last act. Their voices work fine together."