Wednesday, 6 May 2009

267. Vincenzo Bellini - La Sonnambula (1831)


Title: La Sonnambula
Performers: Maria Callas, Cesare Valletti
Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
Year: 1955
Length: 2 hours 20 minutes


Another opera and another recording with Callas. I hate Callas. That being said this is just not as good as Anna Bolena, the plot is bucolic to the point of boredom. It all hinges on what might have been an innovative plot engine at the time: A girl sleepwalks into the room of a man who is not her husband to be.

As you can imagine there are no surprises in the plot. Eventually it is discovered that she is a sleepwalker and all is solved. There are a couple of very good arias towards the end of the opera with some very good mixing of soloists, choir and orchestra.

From this we can see that Bellini has the potential to do great things when given a more interesting libretto. Norma is up the bend on this list so we'll see it then. The recording is another awful 1950s live recording. The lack of sound channels makes the choirs a horrible mess and the scenes that depend on the listener being able to distinguish the soloists from the choir even messier. That and Callas might have been pretty but has a voice which I can only consider annoying.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

Bellini's most pastoral work, it was an immediate success and is still regularly performed. The title role of Amina is renowned for its difficulty. Many great sopranos have tackled this role over the years. They include Adelina Patti, Maria Malibran, Lina Pagliughi, Lily Pons, Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, Anna Moffo, Renata Scotto, Edita Gruberova, June Anderson, Luba Orgonasova, Natalie Dessay, Anna Netrebko, and Cecilia Bartoli.

Here's Callas singing Amina's sleepwalking scene:


Rod McBan said...

Callas is an awful singer.

Absolutely gorgeous, mind. And apparently she was a pretty good actress, so there's that.

Francisco Silva said...

Tom: Indeed, which is why a sound recording of Callas is particularly useless. I wouldn't mind watching Callas but I mind hearing her.

Antonio Jerez said...

Great to see that I am not the only one in the world who has had doubts about Callas greatness as a singer. Could never understand what all the fuss was about.