Above: Production photo of I Puritani Credit: Fabrizio Sansoni/Opera Roma
For cast lists, please visit the Opera Series Overview.
Teatro dell’Opera Rome returns to the WFMT Opera Series this season, presenting Bellini’s I Puritani with a stellar cast including Jessica Pratt as Lady Elvira Valton, John Osborn as Lord Arturo Talbot, and more.
I Puritani was born out of Vincenzo Bellini’s extended love affair with Paris, a city that enchanted him with its rich social and cultural life. It would be the final opera in the Italian composer’s short life, but its musical and political charge make it a powerful closing chapter in his stellar musical career. I Puritani had its premiere at the Théâtre-Italien on 24 January 1835 when it gathered supreme critical and popular acclaim. Teatro dell’Opera di Roma in Rome revives the last jewel in Bellini’s operatic crown, and the work glimmers with passion, emotional charge and compositional drive that clearly demonstrate its longevity in the repertoire.
At the time he received the commission for a new opera, Bellini had been enjoying the Parisian lifestyle for nearly half a year. He quickly set on an arduous search for a libretto, which proved harder than expected. In his social circle, he found Count Carlo Pepoli, an Italian expat poet-for-hire who had never written a libretto before but made up for his lack of experience with strong political opinions and fiery verses. The two men quickly settled on adapting an English Civil War play by Jacques-François Ancelot and Joseph Xavier Saintine titled Têtes Rondes et Cavaliers. As Pepoli proved a slow and vexing collaborator, Bellini got the chance to contribute both to the music and to the dramaturgic text of I Puritani, and the final product clearly shows the composer’s many talents.
I Puritani takes us back to England in the 1640’s, as the civil war between the Royalists and the Puritans is slowly winding down. The latter group, under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell, is about to declare victory. Against this political background, a love triangle between Elvira, Sir Arturo Talbo and Sir Riccardo Forth develops. The two men belong to different warring factions, and the young woman is torn. As personal and political passions bubble over, Elvira starts to lose her mind, and who knows how much longer she can hold on? Bellini explores the societal and intimate romantic struggles in I Puritani with his trademark expressive musical style. His incendiary melodies pair perfectly with Pepoli’s sharp lyrics and make for a truly exciting dramatic opera that will shake the walls of Teatro Costanzi. (Teatro dell’Opera Rome)
About the Host
Lisa Flynn has been a program host and producer for WFMT since 1991. She presents The New Releases and has hosted many programs for the WFMT Radio Network, including War Letters (which won the 2002 Peter Lisagor Award) and a series of live broadcasts from Salzburg to celebrate Mozart’s 250th birthday in 2006. As WFMT’s midday weekday announcer, Lisa hosts live studio performances and interviews guest artists including Renée Fleming, John Adams, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, John Eliot Gardiner, and many others. Before coming to Chicago, Lisa presented classical music at WOSU in Columbus, Ohio, and at WMFE and WUCF in Orlando, Florida. She holds a music degree from the University of Central Florida.
This program is a part of the WFMT Radio Network Opera Series, a series designed to complement the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts to fill out the year with great Opera content. The series begins in June and lasts until December.