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Vincenzo Bellini: I Puritani [Nederlandse Opera] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: PCM 2.0, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Dutch
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Opus Arte
  • Blu-ray Release Date: October 30, 2012
  • List Price: $39.99

Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Performance
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Performance

[Rating:3/5]

Vincenzo Bellini was a charter member of the bel canto school of operatic composers and shared this distinction with compatriots Giachino Rossini and Gaetano Donizetti. I Puritani (The Puritans) was the last work of his short life. The opera takes place in 17th century England during the war between the Royalists and the Puritans who are Cromwell supporters. Elvira (Mariola Cantarero) was promised by her father Lord Walton (Riccardo Zanellato) to Riccardo (Scott Hendricks) but she is secretly loves Royalist Arturo (John Osborn). Lord Walton relents and agrees to allow the couple to get married. During the prenuptial ceremonies, Arturo escorts a disguised Queen Enrichetta, King Charles I’s widow, (Frederika Brillembourg) to safety. Confusion sets in and Elvira, believing that she has been deserted, loses her reason. Because Arturo’s act was considered to be treason, he has been sentenced to death. Arturo escapes and eventually returns to Elvira. When the Puritan troops recapture him and Elvira hears demands for his execution, she regains her sanity. After the Royalists have been defeated and Cromwell has pardoned all political prisoners, the young lovers are finally to be married.

This performance by the Nederlandse Opera was staged in 2009. Those expecting to see a traditional piece will be partly satisfied as the costumes are certainly period specific. The sets are quite another thing as Es Devlin’s designs consist of heavy metal perforated walls that transform into walls, seats, and open spaces with occasional text projections from the libretto. Maestro Giuliano Carrella leads the Nederlandse Opera Chorus and Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra in a fairly standard rendition of this beautiful score. The young leads handle their roles sympathetically; the supporting cast is adequate.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The costumes contrast starkly with the ultra-modern set. The videographers do what they can to convey a sense of the drama but there is much distraction by staging that yields little sense of place or purpose. Colors are quite good and there is plenty of detail.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound gives a good recreation of the singing on stage. The orchestra is clearly heard and well balanced against the vocal proceedings. The PCM version is also quite decent.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

There is the usual cast gallery and rehearsal film clips with some of the principals, the director, and the conductor as well as a brief description of the bel canto opera genre. While I was hopeful that these behind the scenes moments would be useful to viewers unfamiliar with this work, they seemed more like filler than substance.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3/5]

Cutting to the chase, this is a decent if not outstanding performance of I Puritani. I last saw soprano Cantarero in a BD release of Rossini’s La Gazza Ladra in which she overcame a water-logged second act set and turned in a lovely performance of Ninetta. In the current release, she gets her part’s challenging notes right but does not generate the excitement that the “mad scene” really needs. Her partner, tenor John Osborn, has a sweet voice but his performance is waylaid by the production’s staging. In fact, the biggest obstacle that this production faces is the staging that seems continually at cross purposes with Bellini’s drama. There is already a superb BD release from the Metropolitan Opera that stars the incomparable diva, Anna Netrebko with a good group of colleagues. Go for that one.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Bellini: I Puritani on Blu-ray at CD Universe

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Purchase Bellini: I Puritani on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Performance
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]


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