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|Anna Netrebko, Elina Garanca|
Bellini: I Capuleti e i Montecchi
I Capuleti e i Montecchi is one of the loveliest and most moving of bel canto operas, though not among the more frequently performed. When Anna Netrebko and El na Garan a sang Giulietta and Romeo in Vienna last year at the... more »
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I Capuleti e i Montecchi is one of the loveliest and most moving of bel canto operas, though not among the more frequently performed. When Anna Netrebko and El na Garan a sang Giulietta and Romeo in Vienna last year at the performances documented in this recording, critics were enthusiastic. They found that Giulietta suited Anna Netrebko especially well, and she could show to full advantage her rounded tone and creamy timbre in every register. The German opera magazine Das Opernglas wrote: She concentrates on shaping individual phrases seemingly without effort and with unerring security, never sacrificing tonal beauty and flexibility. Anna clearly loves singing the role as much as Bellini did composing it: There s a lot of piangere cantando [weeping while singing] in Giulietta s beautiful melodies , she says. Her music is so sad in this opera, even tragic, not at all like Gounod s Je veux vivre Juliette.
El na Garan a s velvety timbre with its hint of noble metal made the character of the young Romeo Montecchi come vividly to life. The Opernglas reviewer wrote: Her interpretation of the role is exemplary and has such elegance. And, indeed, the Latvian mezzo has a particular affinity with this trouser role: At the moment that I go into the theatre and put the costume on, I become Romeo. Every woman has a masculine side and every man a feminine side, and it s fun to test that part of myself onstage, to try to imagine how a young man might react in this situation. He s a young guy, so there are the hormones and the pride. There are basically two different aspects to the character: his love of Giulietta is very naïve, very enthusiastic, bright and sunny, but when he and Tebaldo are suddenly going against each other, there s also great courage and energy. It s a fantastic role.
Verdi praised the broad curves of Bellini s unprecedented long melodies , and so does Fabio Luisi, who conducts Deutsche Grammophon s star-studded new recording of I Capuleti e i Montecchi. Luisi singles out Bellini as the composer who did most for the development of the voice and of melody. Nobody before him and probably nobody after him has equalled this achievement.
Vincenzo Bellini was the supreme melodist of the great bel canto triumvirate that also included Gioacchino Rossini and Gaetano Donizetti: the three outstanding representatives of the early 19th-century Italian style whose name literally means beautiful singing . Singers have always loved Bellini s long-breathed vocal writing, and I Capuleti is the first example of that style we know so well from his later, more famous masterpieces La sonnambula, Norma and I Puritani.
Shakespeare s star-crossed lovers would seem ideal for a composer with Bellini s unique gift for tender, elegiac melody, but, in fact, the subject wasn t the composer s choice: Venice s Teatro la Fenice commission in January 1830 required him to set a libretto called Giulietta Capellio. Nor is Bellini s opera based on Shakespeare s tragedy, then still unknown in Italy, but rather on an 1818 Italian play that shared its 16th-century source. That explains divergences from Shakespeare in the opera s title, plot and characters. He was given only a few weeks to produce I Capuleti, which premiered on 11 March, so it isn t surprising that the habitually slow-working composer borrowed heavily from his unsuccessful opera of the previous year, Zaira. In recycling that opera s finest music, Bellini was also hoping to give it a longer shelf-life: Zaira, hissed at Parma , he quipped, got its revenge in I Capuleti.
Throughout the rest of the century, Bellini could still be heard regularly at all the great opera houses. Then his music fell out of favour. In 1935, a few works were brought out of mothballs in Italy to mark the
The Best Recording of this Work
Abel | Hong Kong | 05/27/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This opera is not really a great hit in the field of bel canto works. However, there is much hope that the present recording will change this state of affairs.
The title roles of Montague and Capulet (Romeo and Giulietta) are assumed by top-notch singers Elina Garanca and Anna Netrebko. At the baton is the fast up-and-coming maestro Fabio Luisi. One could hardly wish for a stronger combination of forces, particularly that as a huge added bonus, Tebaldo is being sung by Joseph Calleja, probably the best lyrical tenor to emerge in the 21st century.
In the first Act, Calleja ushered in an immediate sense of urgency and expectation in his glorious singing: his passion for Giulietta and the determination to 'win' her heart over.
In the Second Act, Garanca and Netrebko dominate the scene with their fluid duetts. At times, one hope that the two ladies' voices would not blend SO well together - Garanca's mezzo is surely more a 'high mezzo' than others, and the timbre sometimes in the upper registers resembles Netrebko's too much to be easily distinguishable.
All protagonists give highly charged and passionate performance. Bellini would not be more pleased by such."
I CAPULETI E I MONTECCHI
Allan Johnson | Ontario, Canada | 05/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bellini: I Capuleti e i Montecchi
This recording of Bellini's masterpiece, with Anna Netrebko & Elina Garanco, is destined to become one of the jewels of my operatic collection. It is beautiful in every respect, from the masterful recording, to the flawless arias and duets of Anna Netrebko/Elina Garanco.
I know of no recent recording of operatic arias that can compare with the clarity and delivery of these two beautiful, both in voice and looks, leading operatic stars. I listen enthralled at this operatic gem, completely enchanced and thrilled by such emotional performances. A recording for the ages."
OK, but there are better choices
S. Wells | California | 06/23/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"There is much to enjoy in this performance, but nothing to set it above other choices for this opera. Both Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca are splendid. Ms Netrebko's full, warm tone and excellent technique, including some perfectly executed trills, are a joy to hear. The same can be said of Ms Garanca. Though her lower register hasn't the resonance of say, Jennifer Larmore or Vesselina Kasarova, her upper register is free and bright. Joseph Calleja brings a shining voice to Tebaldo. However at times he displays a laxity that turns dotted rhythms into slurred notes of equal value. The lower voices are fine, but not particularly noteworthy. Fabio Luisi's conducting is apt.
I could find no mention of which performing edition was used. I followed along with the standard Ricordi score and noticed a few very minor cuts - a repeat in the opening chorus and a few of the stretti passages are trimmed of their repeats. The essay in the libretto is complete rubbish. It reads like a poor parody of Peter Shaffer's "Amadeus" with Bellini and Vaccaj replacing Mozart and Salieri. The author writes in some detail about Bellini's rapid composition of the score by borrowing heavily from his failed opera "Zaira." However, he never mentions that the libretto is a recycled version of the book Felice Romani had provided earlier to that same Vaccaj, whom we're told Bellini "hated." Nor is any mention made of the performance practice of substituting the final scene by Bellini with that from Vaccaj's opera. Such slovenly scholarship cannot be condoned. Neither can the engineering of this recording.
There are extended passages that have an odd reverberation to them, perhaps from the acoustic of the concert hall in which this was taped. Where this recording really fails is in the sloppy editing. I understand that it was recorded live - or at least most of it. But it's painfully obvious that this was patched together from many sessions, perhaps in different locations, accounting for the presence - or lack - of the reverberant background. Worst of all, there are several places, especially in the second act, where the takes from different sessions were more botched than spliced together. The sudden shifting of aural gears takes this set out of the competition as far as I'm concerned. I can recommend the performance, but I can't recommend the recording.
There are other recorded performances that are just as good, if not better, than this effort, and which aren't marred by bad engineering. I particularly like Riccardo Muti's recording live from Covent Garden with Edita Gruberova, Agnes Baltsa and Dano Raffanti. Roberto Abbado's recording with Vesselina Kasarova, Eva Mei and Ramon Vargas also has much to recommend it, including Vaccaj's final scene as a bonus."