One of this season’s most unexpected director-opera pairings occurs when Beatrice di Tenda arrives at the Paris Opéra on February 9th in a production by Peter Sellars; this revival prompts Chris’s Cache to offer a trio of live Bellini recordings featuring Mirella Freni, June Anderson, and Angela Meade in the title role.

Bellini’s next-to-last opera has never achieved the popularity of Norma, La Sonnambula and I Puritani. Even I Capuleti e i Montecchi–which Teatro Nuovo revives in July—appears more often than Beatrice, another of the composer’s vehicles for Giuditta Pasta. Yet it has been embraced if only fleetingly by all the expected postwar bel canto divas (with the notable exception of Montserrat Caballé): Joan Sutherland, Leyla Gencer, Edita Gruberová, Lucia Aliberti, Nelly Miricioiu, Mariella Devia, Adelaide Negri, and Cecilia Gasdia, in addition to the three featured today.

Sellars’s staging will star Tamara Wilson in the title role; Wilson’s villainous husband will be Quinn Kelsey and brothers Pene and Amitai Pati are Orombello and Anichino, with Theresa Kronthaler, a late addition to the cast, as Agnese.

Wilson also offers Paris her first Walkùre Brunnhilde as part of a May concert tour by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Rotterdam Philharmonic also featuring Elza van den Heever, Stanislas de Barbeyrac, Karen Cargill, Brian Mulligan, and Soloman Howard.

Who else, besides Jane Eaglen, has paired Bellini and Wagner in the same season during the past century?

Bellini: Beatrice di Tenda

Beatrice di Tenda: Mirella Freni
Agnese del Maino: Carmen Gonzales
Orombello: Renzo Casellato
Filippo Maria Visconti: Claudio Desderi
Anichino: Patride Venturi

Conductor: Maurizio Arena
Teatro Communale di Bologna
10 February 1976

Beatrice di Tenda: June Anderson
Agnese del Maino: Eva Zseller
Orombello: Ivan Kiurkciev
Filippo Maria Visconti: Eduard Tumagian
Anichino: Dwayne Croft

Conductor: Eve Queler
Princeton Pro Musica
Opera Orchestra of New York
Carnegie Hall
27 October 1988
In-house recording

Beatrice di Tenda: Angela Meade
Agnese del Maino: Jamie Barton
Orombello: Michael Spyres
Filippo Maria Visconti: Nicholas Pallesen
Anichino: Nicholas Houhoulis

Conductor: James Bagwell
The Collegiate Chorale
American Symphony Orchestra
Carnegie Hall
5 December 2012

Each of today’s Beatrices can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a box with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

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