Magazine article Gramophone

Bellini: I Capuleti E I Montecchi

Magazine article Gramophone

Bellini: I Capuleti E I Montecchi

Article excerpt

Bellini                   [DVD][Blu-ray] I Capuleti e i Montecchi Olga Kulchynska sop                  Giulietta Joyce DiDonato mez                   Romeo Benjamin Bernhelm ten                Tebaldo Alexei Botnarciuctess                Capellio Roberto Lorenzi bass-bar             Lorenzo Gieorgij Puchalski bass-bar          Companion Zurich Opera Chorus; Philharmonia Zurich/ Fabio Luisi Stage director Christof Loy Video director Michael Beyer Accentus (F)[DVD] ACC20353; (F)[Blu-ray] ACC10353 (139' * NTSC * 16:9 * 1080I * DTS-HD MA5.1, DTS5.1 & PCM stereo * 0 * s) Recorded live, June 2015  Bellini                         [DVD][Blu-ray] Norma Sondra Radvanovsky sop           Norma Ekaterina Gubanova mez           Adalgisa Gregory Kunde ten                Pollione Raymond Aceto bass               Oroveso Ana Puche sop                    Cloti Ide Francisco Vas ten                Flavio Chorus and Symphony Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona / Renato Palumbo Stage director Kevin Newbury Video director Jean-Pierre Loisil C Major Entertainment (F)(2)[DVD] 737208; (F) [Blu-ray] 737304 076' * NTSC * 16:9 * 1080I * DTS-HD MA5.1, DTS5.1 & PCM stereo * 0 * s) Recorded live, February 2015 

The pacing of Bellini's dramas is a conundrum that should bother a director as much as the maestro. If a conductor needs to find the balance between long-breathed melodies and forward momentum, so a director has to trust in the composer's distinct expressive metre, the poise and stillness, as well as know when to disrupt it.

With men in ballgowns, silent extras roaming the stage and a revolving house of horrors, the surprise of Christof Loy's production of I Capuleti e i Montecchi is how it respects the lachrymose beauty of the music while injecting the drama with an extra shot of pathos. Discussing the death-wish of the opera's two principals, Loy has compared this opera to Tristan und Isolde, and, together with set and costume designer Christian Schmidt, he creates a deeply pessimistic, dreamlike world.

Forget Shakespeare. Bellini telescopes the action on to the two lovers, their fruitless dreams and final hours. Loy turns the screw by suggesting their romance may be more about escape than passion. The Capulet mansion, where we stay throughout, is a dead end, wasted by private and public warfare--of the mafia-gangster variety rather than featuring breeches and sabres. Death becomes the only way out.

Unspoken memories bubble up from the surface in surreal touches, one of which is an androgynous man who glides around exuding menacing vibes - he gives Giulietta the fatal potion. These touches are disconcerting but not wilful. As the double tragedy looms closer, Benjamin Bernheim's Tebaldo sings of a 'terrible presentiment'; Loy and Schmidt accordingly bring past and present together, hinting at the terrible things that happened before curtain-up: abuse, guilt and scarring. Only occasionally does Loy overfill this minutely detailed canvas.

Zurich Opera's cast and conductor jump on board with admirable commitment. Fabio Luisi boldly sculpts the cantahile phrases without getting bogged down, and the orchestral playing is evocative, with pungent contributions from the winds. …

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