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Bellini: La Sonnambula
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Top Customer Reviews
On the hit side, updating this drama to current day make sense because it is a simple story of a girl being mis-accused of infidelity, and the storyline translates well to any age.
On the miss side the director thought it would be a brilliant idea to set it as an opera in rehearsal. The opera in rehearsal bit is cheap and does not translate well at all. In fact you can't really tell when they are in rehearsal mode and when they aren't, it was a really dumb idea. In fact the show only works if you more or less ignore that they are supposed to be somehow in rehearsal. Once you ignore the dumb concept seeing them in current day clothing makes the interaction between the characters more believable.
Some newcomers may find the opera's story itself a little cheesy - in a sense it's supposed to be. It's a lighthearted and charming piece with a very basic story. It's not a particular favorite of mine but the music certainly makes up the missing excitement. If you think about it - this is a very elaborate opera of a simple misunderstanding which in the end gives you a happy ending and all are at peace. Really, it's pretty fun! With such a light-hearted story like this, some may say it calls for regietheater.
Mary Zimmerman and the rest of the production team was booed on opening night and did not bow for this recording. It has been staged here as a New York opera company rehearsing the opera La Sonnambula. Our issue here is characters do seem to be rehearsing some scenes and others they seem to be having out-of-character interaction. The main problem is that when the libretto doesn't change but the action does, we have a mess. It's made even more bizarre that there's this conflict that matches all the music (but not the words) and the unseen orchestra plays on - actors and instrumentalists disregarding one another's presence.
Other times the people don't seem to act like human beings at all - for a literal and specific set and place we have here, too often the action and character direction seems completely unrealistic (not all the time though).Read more ›
Reviewers have focused on the storyline. While it is not terribly believable, the reality is that many of the operas out there don't have such great plots either. Does an opera always have to have someone that dies tragically at the end? It's the music and singing that counts. And of course, a good production and set would be good too. The chemistry between Mr. Florez and Ms. Dessay was remarkable. Their respective timbres complement each other so well. Their duets were so delicious that I get easily absorbed into their singing and the sheer beauty of the music. While people will probably focus on Ms. Dessay's sleepwalking aria in Act II, Mr. Florez impressed with his jaw-dropping aria ("Ah perchè non posso odiarti") where he held the final note for an astounding 10+ seconds...with power. Unbelievable to see that in person - and great to see that again on the DVD.
La Sonnambula deserved a better staging for its sublime music, and despite the problems in the storyline and Ms. Zimmerman's production, this DVD is a worthy buy - if not for the camera work which provided better focus, then buy it for the music and singing.
As for the singers, Juan Diego Flórez and Natalie Dessay are, of course, outstanding. Dessay's sleepwalking scene in act II will bring tears to your eyes. Jennifer Black as Lisa clearly relishes her role as the spiteful "understudy" in this production, throwing her arms up in triumph at the end of the act I finale after having ruined Amina's wedding to Elvino (though I will admit that her voice was just a bit weak in her upper register). There is a nice balance between the orchestra (the Met orchestra excellent as always) and the singers. The acting is first rate by all the performers. Truly, this is a wonderful production on the musical/acting side.
Where I differ in my opinion from some other reviewers concerns the overall concept of the setting. By staging the production in a modern rehearsal hall, Zimmerman is playing with the very notion of "staging". Never was I confused as to when we were in "rehearsal" and when we were in "real life". Some reviewers have complained about the occasional mismatch between the words and what is portrayed on stage, and they are entitled to their opinions. However, I wonder how much we have become too entrenched in "accurate, period productions", as if anything that doesn't include hoop skirts, bustles, and gentlemen in waist coats no longer counts as acceptable.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bad news first: the decision to stage this classic opera of advanced Romanticism--stupid plot, glorious music-- as a modern dress rehearsal (shades of Strauss? Read morePublished 17 months ago by Alfredo R. Villanueva
I saw this production this year and I really didn't like it. You're supposed to know when the leads are rehearsing their parts and then when they're not and they're talking to each... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Charles F. Fuchs
I've watched this several times since I bought it and am always moved by the simplicity of the story and the beauty of the Bel Canto music of Bellini. Read morePublished on June 3, 2014 by edanco
Diego-Florez and Dessay are two of the most wonderful singers to listen to and watch. They have the most beautiful bel canto voices as well as brilliant acting skills and they are... Read morePublished on May 30, 2013 by Jaye
They just re-wrote Bellini. They moved the action to the modern day and set it in a warehouse loft. They had the lead soprano camp it up and play it like a farce. Read morePublished on March 27, 2013 by Boz
A very fine modern production of bellinis work. With two of the best singers at thid time, it gives you a very plecent experiencePublished on January 18, 2013 by Pedro Martinez
The staging for the Met's 2009 production of Bellini's wonderful La Sonnambula is not traditional ... but I found it a very satisfying and worthwhile experience nevertheless. Read morePublished on February 11, 2012 by tom c.
I saw this at the MET HD. The production is a nightmare. So much that I hated the opera. Florez is superb but Natalie is past her prime after her many operations. Read morePublished on November 12, 2011 by sergei kochkin
Poor Bellini! Out of fashion for a century and rescued from near obscurity by the
genius of Maria Callas only to be trashed by this horror. Read more
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