On August 20, 2021, Delos will release a 3-CD recording (DE 3537) of Vincenzo Bellini’s opera I Puritani.
Not since the 1953 studio recordings of Bellini’s Bel Canto tour de force with deluxe casts: the vintage Cetra with Callas, Di Stefano, Panerai, and Rossi-Lemeni, and the various 1960’s releases with Dame Joan Sutherland leading various casts has there been such a cohesively stylish group of soloists as the one assembled by DELOS for this effort.
With veteran Opera specialist Constantine Orbelian, the newly appointed music director of the New York City Opera, helming Lithuania’s Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra and State Choir the results are nothing short of excellent.
Two Americans: soprano Sarah Coburn as Elvira and tenor Lawrence Brownlee as Arturo are joined by Kazakhstani baritone Azamat Zheltyrguzov as Riccardo, and Lithuanian bass Tadas Girininkas as Sir Giorgio Walton, heading an international cast that includes Liudas Norvaišas, Jovita Vaškevičiūtė and Tomas Pavilionis.
Bellini gifted his four leads with some show-stopping music, none showier than the challenging arias that must be negotiated by the soloists: A te o cara and Credeasi misera (with a high F above high C, no less) both conceived for Rubini, the Italian tenor who, joined by Grisi, Tamburini and Lablache was part of the famed Puritani Quartet.
The soprano who undertakes the role of Elvira must be comfortable singing highly embellished music – Son vergine vezzosa and long-lined cantabile scenes – Qui la voce, and then match the tenor in Vieni fra queste braccia.
The baritone who sings the part of Riccardo has to have suppleness and lyricism for A per sempre and power for the Suoni la tromba duet with the bass, who himself must be able to spin out seamless legato in Cinta di fiori.
The good news is that the silvery voiced Sarah Coburn, the superb Lawrence Brownlee, the very fine lyric baritone Azamat Zheltyrguzov, and the impressive basso cantante Tadas Girininkas meet the demands of their assignments with elegant vocalism, turning what can often be a competition for the spotlight into an ensemble effort in which the sum of the parts equals great results.
The recording is superbly engineered and nobly produced, something one has come to expect from this enterprising label.
Rafael de Acha ALL ABOUT THE ARTS