Cher Public

Mad, mad, mad, mad scenes

In anticipation of the Met’s revival this evening of I puritani, I thought it might be nice to take a look back at a few archival videos. In terms of commercial videos, there isn’t much out there, so once again I look to those great old pirated videos for inspiration.

This collection would not be complete without a fuller representation from the great Joan Sutherland. Here we witness the diva in a performance from late in her career, and while we could only wish that more video would surface of her earlier performances, there is still much to enjoy here.

Sydney 1985
Conductor – Richard Bonynge
Elvira – Joan Sutherland
Arturo Talbot – Anson Austin
Sir Riccardo Forth – Michael Lewis
Sir Giorgio – Donald Shanks
Enrichetta di Francia – Rosemary Gunn

I’ve included all of the great Elviras of the 1980s and 1990s: Swenson, Devia, Jo, Anderson, Gruberova, and Aliberti, but there are also less well-known singers, which makes for interesting comparisons.

Vienna 1998
Conductor – Maurizio Benini
Elvira – Edita Gruberova
Arturo – Marcello Giordani
Riccardo – Carlos Alvarez
Giorgio – Roberto Scandiuzzi
Enrichetta – Liliana Ciuca

Zurich 1998
Conductor – Marcello Viotti
Elvira – Edita Gruberova
Sir Giorgio Valton – Laszlo Polgar
Enrichetta di Francia – Stefania Kaluza
Lord Gualtiero Valton – Jacob Will
Lord Arturo Talbo – Octavio Arevalo
Sir Riccardo Forth – Angelo Veccia
Sir Bruno Roberton – Miroslav Christoff

Essen 2002
Conductor – Stefan Soltesz
Elvira Valton – Elena Mosuc
Lord Arturo Talbo – Mario Zeffiri
Sir Riccardo Forth – Károly Szilágy
Sir Giorgio Valton – Karl-Heinz Lehner
Enrichetta di Francia – Gritt Gnauck
Sir Bruno Roberton – Herbert Hechenberger

Montreal 1987
Conductor – Elio Boncompagni
Elvira – Luciana Serra
Arturo – Gregory Kunde
Riccardo – Adib Fazah
Giorgio – Pierre Charbonneau
Walton – Renato Capecchi
Bruno – Robert Tate

Tokyo 1989
Conductor – Carlo Franci
Elvira – Lucia Aliberti
Arturo Talbot – Aldo Bertolo
Sir Riccardo Forth – Tadamichi Orie
Sir Giorgio – Hiroyuki Okayama
Enrichetta di Francia – Fumiko Mochiki

Las Palmas 1991
Conductor – Armando Krieger
Elvira – Sumi Jo
Arturo – Jose Sempere
Riccardo – Vicente Sardinero
Giorgio – Alfanso Echevrria

Paris 1987 (rehearsal video)
Conductor – Bruno Campanella
Elvira – June Anderson
Arturo – Rockwell Blake
Riccardo – Eduard Tumagian
Giorgio – Giorgio Surjan

Naples 1988 (“Malibran” Version)
Conductor Fabio Luisi
Elvira – Lucia Aliberti
Arturo Talbot – Rockwell Blake
Sir Riccardo Forth – Vinson Cole
Sir Giorgio – Mario Luperi
Enrichetta di Francia – Janet Bartolova
Sir Bruno Robertson – Mario Ferrara
Lord Gualtiero Valton – Ambrogio Riva

Bologna 1988
Conductor – Alberto Zedda
Elvira – Mariella Devia
Arturo – Chris Merritt
Ricardo – Paolo Coni
Giorgio – Giorgio Surjan
Enrichetta – Plama Gioreva

Bologna 2008
Conductor – Friedrich Haider
Elvira – Desirée Rancatore
Arturo – Jose Bros
Giorgio – Carlo Colombara
Riccardo – Marco Di Felice

Catania 1989 (highlights only)
Conductor – Richard Bonynge
Elvira – Mariella Devia
Arturo Talbot – William Matteuzzi
Sir Riccardo Forth – Christopher Robertson
Sir Giorgio – Paolo Washington
Enrichetta di Francia – Eleonora Jankovic

Geneve 1995
Conductor – Bruno Campanella
Elvira – Ruth Ann Swenson
Arturo Talbot – Stuart Neill
Sir Riccardo Forth – Jeffrey Black
Sir Giorgio – Michele Pertusi
Enrichetta di Francia – Rebecca Russell

Berlin 2003
Elvira – Maureen O’Flynn
Giorgio – Arutjun Kotchian
Arturo – Jose Sempere
Riccardo – Roberto Servile

Liege 2002
Conductor – Éduard Rasken
Élvira – Stefania Bonfadelli
Lord Arturo- Mark Laho
Riccardo – Vittorio Vitelli
Giorgio – Vojtek Smilek

Las Palmas 2004
Conductor – Riccardo Frizza
Elvira – Mariola Cantarero
Arturo Talbot – Juan Diego Flórez
Sir Riccardo Forth – Juan Jesús Rodríguez
Sir Giorgio – Simon Orfila
Enrichetta di Francia – Marina Rodríguez Cusi

Oviedo 1982
Elvira – Mariella Devia (role debut)
Arturo – Salvatore Fisichella
Riccardo – Franco Bordoni
Giorgio – Justino Diaz

Paris 2013
Conductor – Michele Mariotti
Elvira – Maria Agresta
Lord Gualtiero Valton – Wojtek Smilek
Sir Giorgio – Michele Pertusi
Lord Arturo Talbot – Dmitry Korchak
Sir Riccardo Forth – Mariusz Kwiecien
Sir Bruno Roberton – Luca Lombardo
Enrichetta di Francia – Andrea Soare

Marseille 1991
Conductor – Lovrenc Arnic
Kathleen Cassello
Ignacio Encinas
Ned Barth
Mario Luperi

Santiago 1993
Conductor – Michelangelo Veltri
Giovanni Ruffini
Stuart Neill
Roberto Servile
Francesca Ellero d’Artegna

Rome 1990
Conductor – Spiros Argiris
Elvira – Mariella Devia
Arturo Talbot – Chris Merritt
Sir Riccardo Forth – Gino Quilico
Sir Giorgio – Carlo Colombara
Enrichetta di Francia – Eleonora Jeankovic
Sir Bruno Robertson – Carlo Novelli
Lord Gualtiero Valton – Maurizio Antonelli

Savonlinna 2009
Conductor – Friedrich Haider
Desirée Rancatore
Celso Albelo
Vincenzo Taormina
Burak Bilgili

Salerno 2011
Conductor – Yoram David
Elvira – Jessica Pratt
Arturo – Celso Albelo
Riccardo – Gabriele Viviani
Giorgio – Lorenzo Regazzo

Opéra d’Avignon 1999
Conductor – Charles Roubaud
Elvira – Annick Massis
Arturo – Marc Laho
Riccardo – Marc Barrard
Giorgio – Julian Konstrantinov

There are quite a few videos here, I don’t expect everyone to want to watch them all, at least not in one evening… but I think there is enough here for everyone to find something new or interesting. I won’t say which performance is my favorite, but I’d be glad to hear what yours are.

  • DonCarloFanatic

    Just listened to the Gruberova/Giordani performance and he was a revelation. Thanks for these treats.

  • pasavant

    Just found this on youtube. Maybe he is available tonite.

  • Milady DeWinter

    Oh for sure, almavivante -- that aria is sort of the “Il balen” of the Bellinian canon- you have to have everything. It’s really difficult to pick one tune as THE best in the score.
    And before I get into this performance which has just started, a hearty thanks for including a version with Maureen O’Flynn. Probably the best-kept secret (in terms of box office recognition return) in this and the lyric repertoire. Total class from top to bottom, a lovely sound, a way with all the traditional variants and interpolations, and something like an inner grace. When she stepped in for Gheorghiu during the first Rondine run, O’Flynn sang circles around her and knocked Magda’s “bel sogno” right out of the park, first try. Most effortless since Price.

    • Milady DeWinter

      “A hearty thanks to Coloraturafan” for including O’Flynn’s Elvira- I meant to write. Jeesh.

  • lyrebird

    Big Coloraturafan fan here; thanks Dylan.

    For anyone looking for some immediacy and intimacy (not to mention the size of the voice and the sheer joy of singing) that that late Sutherland video doesn’t quite capture, here she is two years earlier. Home crowd again. Check out what years of singing this stuff does to your neck muscles by the time you’re 57.

    I think the ’61 Serafin Palermo Sutherland/Raimondi Puritani another one for the Sutherland nutters. No sagging here despite some very slow tempi; just endless sublime arches of silver.

    • lyrebird

      Ooops. Sincere Apologies. That was one I’d been watching (Bonynge nearly tripping over himself) but didn’t mean to post.

      Here’s the up close and personal Joan I meant:

  • Cara Speme

    Dear Dylan,

    I am in Puritanical heaven, Thanks for an embarrassment of riches.
    (And the best part is, this is my favorite house cleaning opera. I might actually get my Spring Cleaning done early)


    Cara Speme

  • Cara Speme

    Dear Dylan,

    I am in Puritanical heaven, Thanks for an embarrassment of riches.
    (And the best part is, this is my favorite house cleaning opera. I might actually get my Spring Cleaning done early)


    Cara Speme

  • The director of I Puritani from Essen is… Stefan Herheim.

  • Hey Louie

    Of all the Puritanis on YT, I’ve favorited only the 2009 Bologna performance with Nino Machaidze and Juan Diego Flórez, not so much because of the vocal sweetness on display, but rather because the physical beauty of the two stars conveys to me more fully than any other video the fairy-tale elements of the plot so successfully.

    Watch from 43:00 on, when Flórez begins the A Te O Cara. In spite of the wooden (literally) production and (figuratively) staging, the gorgeousness of the singers lifts the performance into the mythic sphere to which great opera aspires:

    And speaking of gorgeousness, Coloraturafan, please accept my lifelong devotion to your physique (as well as, naturally, to your good taste in opera).

    • Guestoria Unpopularenka

      You explained Nino’s career right there.

      • Hey Louie

        It’s hard to believe that the audience was so taken by her physical gifts alone that they decided to reward her and Flórez with several minutes of applause and “bravi” and the stomping of feet at their curtain call.

        Just watch their Vieni Fra Queste Braccia (2:31), and the wild audience reaction may convince you that at least on this night, she was a great singer. Perhaps—I assume you know a lot more than I do about her career since I know nothing—this was the only superb performance she’s ever given.

        If that’s the case, we should treasure it even more, no?

        • Guestoria Unpopularenka

          I haven’t seen more than the cabaletta. I will watch the duet. However, in general, Nino is quite a poor singer. She’s a beautiful woman and very charismatic but the voice is not A league. She got her big break when Netrebko cancelled that televised Romeo and Juliette in Salzburg in 2008. She’s 30 now and her voice is shredded, granted she was out to give birth so maybe she has recovered somewhat.

  • Guestoria Unpopularenka

    Joan looks very pretty here. The prettiest I’ve ever seen her.

  • Buster

    Thank you for another smashing overview. Will start with all the French ones.

  • cgambol

    The first thing I listen/look for in a Puritani performance is the man playing Riccardo. If a well-costumed singing actor can move me with the sensual recitative before Ah per sempre io ti perdei and follow it up with a beautiful and sensitive aria proper, I can relax.

    Milady and Almavivante I have to agree with Marius, it is easy for this stock-seeming character to get lost among the high Ds and Fs, but Riccardo’s short scene is full of some tender Bellini honey, and sung with passion, taste and a beautiful voice, I GET the guy.

    Case in point -- Angelo Vecchia in the 1998 Zurich production. Damn! Such a beautiful tone, he sings everything in tune, you can actually hear the low Ab in the treacherous downward arpeggio (98% of baritones their voices simply evaporate half-way down) and the man has the nerve act with soul and is emotionally connected to what he is singing. Sensitive and musical phrasing is a welcome plus. Most Riccardos either bellow or are underpowered.

    The video is blurry so I had to do a search and found a more recent clip of Vecchio’s Germont -- paired with Grigolo’s Alfredo, sung in a train station.

    Look at his face, there’s character communicating: a motivated, sensitive human portrayal of a person. How refreshing…. and the voice, while dark, is expressive and serves him well. Bravo Angelo Veccia.