Bellini, I Capuleti e i Montecchi (1830) Bel Canto Bellini (1801-1835)
through singing‘, he told his librettist.  " No other composer so relentlessly equates emotional probing with the naked exposure of the human voice, frequently underpinned by the sparest of accompaniments. He took the bel canto tradition, with its demands for technical prowess and its vertiginous coloratura, and placed it at the service of psychology, with deadly accurate, often unnerving results.’  Read the fascinating Guardian essay on Bellini here. The Capulets and the Montagues So don’t expect the colour, occasional lightness and shiny romance of Romeo and Juliet. There’s no sweet balcony scene. Bellini’s libretto (by the famous poet Felice Romani) is from the C16th source materials Shakespeare used. It’s a shorter story of the last hours of the lovers’ lives - not much character
Born in Catania, Sicily, he died young and celebrated.  Rossini had dominated Italian opera from 1810, but Bellini became master of bel canto —'long, sweeping, highly decorated lines, often with a melancholy tinge. He gave much less attention to ensembles, choruses, and the expressive potential of the orchestra.’  (Britannica And - unlike Rossini and Donizetti - he saw opera as always serious stuff.  ‘Opera must make people weep, feel horrified, die
development, but heavy themes of fear, violence and male dominance. ‘It provides an intimate closeup of our young protagonists’ psyche, the heroine’s internal tug-of- war between love and duty, and exposes the oppressive cruelty of their families and the darkness of the times in which they lived. Review of another controversial production here. In this bleak setting, he wrote some of his most beautiful music. ‘The opera marks the beginning of Bellini’s mature period as a composer demonstrating his melodic gifts, distinctive dramatic abilities and elegiac bel canto style. Through tender, melancholic melodies and long vocal lines the young lovers’ passion is beautifully conveyed contrasting against the warring atmosphere between the two families.” (from notes for Vic Opera’s upcoming September production).

Our production, Friday 17Aug.

Zurich Opera House, 2015. Philharmonia Zurich cond. Fabio Luisi. Romeo - Joyce DiDonato, Juliet, Olga Kulchynska. Reviews here.

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