If you want to see an opera about love, passion and religion war, or just a phenomenal production, with talented singers, then I can recommend this production of I Puritani in Zurich.
Elvira, the daughter of a Puritan Lord, has to marry the Puritan Riccardo Forth. Unfortunately she loves Arturo Talbo, a member of the royalists. With plenty of skillful succeeds Elvira’s uncle Sir. Giorgio to dissuade her father, so she can marry Arturo. The happiness of the two seems to be complete, but when Arturo sees the queen of the Stuarts captured by the Puritans and sentenced to death, he flees with her and leaves Elvira alone in front of a church. Elvira can’t handle this situation and goes insane. Elvira haunts the castle, always in hope of finding Arturo. The Puritans want revenge and embark on a search for Arturo. However, when Arturo returns and explains that he saved the queen out of honour and not because of love, it’s too late and he is killed by the angry Puritans. Normally, there is a happy ending to this opera, but this director, decided to alter the story.
This opera is always a challenge for a director, but director Andreas Homoki has done an amazing Job. The set reminds one of a large rotating cylinder. Sometimes, a wall opens and a new room is visible, at others there is just a black wall. Based on this concept, two actions can occur simultaneously. For example, during Elvira’s mad scene, the other soloist are standing in front of the black wall and on the other half of the stage, there opens a room, where the audience has a view in Elvira’s fears and hallucinations. Homoki succeeds , therefore, to give the audience an insight into the psyche of individual characters. Unfortunately some some in the audience did not grasp Homoki’s vision and booed him and his team (Henrik Ahr, Barbara Drosihn). The ensemble of singers managed to put the audience in its spell. Pretty Yende sung such a brilliant Elvira, that the audience already couldn’t stop cheering after her first aria. Her really powerful soprano reaches even the highest note with remarkable ease,. Lawrence Brownlee (Arturo) is a masterpiece of the coloratura. His slender tenore mastered the fastest and most difficult passages with a tremendous force. In his famous Aria “A te, o cara” he almost sounded like the great Pavarotti. Brownlee’s singing technique was also admirable. Michele Pertusi (Sir Giorgio) and George Petean (Riccardo Forth) gave the two male roles an immense character. Pertusi’s bass and Petean’s Baritone complemented one another and their duet was a highlight of the evening. Wenwei Zang rendered a good Valton (Elviras father) and Liliana Nikiteanu’s singing and acting gave the role of the captured Queen Enrichetta an immense power. The conductor, Fabio Luisi, was fully in his element. He and the Philharmonia Zurich produced an excellent sound and his conducting was extremely precise. The audience honored this absolutely special evening with a 10 minute standing ovation, lots of “bravos” and some inappropriate booes for the Director Andreas Homoki.