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The Sunday Opera: Vincenzo Bellini's "I Puritani" from Rome Opera

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Travel back to 17th century England via Rome on this week’s Sunday Opera (9/25 3:00 p.m.) for a performance of Vincenzo Bellini’s “I Puritani” from the Rome Opera.

For nine years, England was engulfed in a bitter Civil War, and the love story of “I Puritani” takes place around 1650, near the end of the war. Elvira (Jessica Pratt) is the daughter of the commander of a fortress in Plymouth of those who support Parliament or the Roundheads. She has been promised to Riccardo (Franco Vassallo), but she loves Arturo (John Osborn). The problem is that Arturo is a Royalist who supports what’s left of the royal family after King Charles I’s beheading. Riccardo steps aside as he will not marry someone who is not in love with him.

Arturo arrives at the fortress to marry Elvira, and once there, he finds that Queen Enrichetta (Irene Savignano) is a prisoner there awaiting transport to London for trial. Arturo promises the queen that he will help her escape, but Elvira gets there first and offers to disguise the queen to help her, but Riccardo appears and stops them.

Elvira leaves, and Arturo arrives giving Riccardo an idea. If he allows Arturo to leave with the queen, Arturo will be suspect, and Elvira can be Riccardo’s.

When Elvira is told that Arturo has left with the queen, she assumes that he has turned his affections away from her and goes mad as operatic sopranos are sometimes wont to do.

Eventually, Arturo sneaks back into the castle to reassure Elvira of his love, but he is captured. However, all turns out for the best when an announcement is made that the Royalists have been defeated, and all are pardoned. The news shocks Elvira back to her senses, she recognizes Arturo, and there’s a happy ending.

Other members of the cast include Nicola Ullvieri as Elvira’s Uncle Giorgio, Roberto Lorenzi as Lord Walton, and Rodrigo Ortiz as Sir Bruno. Roberto Abbado conducts the Rome Opera Chorus and Orchestra.

After the opera, we’ll have a bit more music of Bellini with a piano transcription of Col sorriso d’innocenza from his opera “Il Pirata” before we switch things up and turn to what some have given the misnomer of “the ugly stepchild” of Bruckner’s Symphonies, his No. 6 in A minor performed by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maris Jansons. This moving work may just not have lived up to the expectations of the audiences and critics to earn it their disdain, but we think it’s a worthy work.

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.
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