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Bellini: Capuleti e Montecchi
Vincenzo Bellini, Sarah Caldwell, William Fred Scott
Bellini: Capuleti e Montecchi
Genre: Classical
 

      
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A Bel Canto Masterpiece That Doesn't Get Much Creedance
03/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Recently released, this album features the talents of Beverly Sills and Tatiana Troyanos as the archetypical tragic lovers Romeo and Juliet. This album is just one of two in circulation. EMI has recently released the Capuleti E Montechi which was recorded earlier in Beverly Sill's career (late 60's)in which she sang opposite Janet Baker and Nicolai Gedda. While that version is superior in every way, this one is more of a time capsule for both Troyanos and Sills, who would have otherwise never crossed paths. Troyanos was a terrific artist, endowed with a mezzo soprano voice that she nevertheless could make as dramatically effective and as broad in range as Marilyn Horne. I think the best reason to get this album is for Troyanos. Sills is past her prime (unfortunately many of her late 70's performances, captured on both film and recording, saw this wonderful lyric-coloratura and dramatic soprano in the last days of her career, in which her voice, still beautiful, was not as vigorous or fresh as it was in the 50s and 60's and even early 70's. Thankfully, Sills was as compelling an actress and showed integrity in her performances that even if in her latter days she was not giving her best performances. In this way, Beverly Sills was EXACTLY like Maria Callas, ever the actress.

Opera fans, particularily those fond of the legacy of soprano Beverly Sills, will be delighted to add this recording to their collection. Bellini is best known for "Norma", but other great hits (at least during his time) were Il Pirata and La Sonnambula. Beverly Sills made it a sort of theme in her career to revive forgotten and non-mainstream operas into the repertoire of opera houses, especially those of the bel canto period. Bellini, king of bel canto, produced a rather gorgeous Italian version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. In this edition, we don't have all the cast from the original play. Friar Lawrence and the Nurse are not in here. The tragic death of the lovers, the feud between the Montagues and Capulets, are still intact but Bellini found it unnecessary to put in such characters as Mercutio or Tybalt, unlike Charles Gounod's Romeo Et Juliette which even made an aria out of Mercutio's "Queen Mab" dream. This is a beautifully written opera, with bel canto melodies linked by scenes and arias like gold chains, with expressive exclamations of grief and love, with rich beauty and dramatic prowess. I hope that this opera can still be in the repertoire of opera houses, but it seems to be forever overshadowed by the more popular Gounod version, which is closer to the Bard's play. But let's not minimize the greatness of Bellini. After all, he did reign as the bel canto king that would influence Donizetti, Verdi and even, whether he liked it or not, Richard Wagner."