To make the listener "weep, be horrified, die" - this is how Vincenzo Bellini explained the meaning of operatic singing to his librettist Carlo Pepoli. The Puritans have everything that should have captivated the Parisian public.
In Paris in 1834, two Italians, an ambitious young composer and an émigré poet, worked together on the text for the opera Le Puritani, based on the play Roundheads and Knights by François Anselot and Joseph Xavier Bonifas (known as Sentin), which had just been staged. . This opera will be the last triumph of the early deceased bel canto master. On January 24, 1835, in the Parisian Italian theater, as Bellini wrote, “everyone in the hall went crazy, there was such a noise, such screams that one had only to be surprised at the temperament of the public.” This was the beginning of the stage history of The Puritans, already staged in 1840 on the St. Petersburg stage.
The events unfold against a colorful historical background: it takes place in England in the middle of the 17th century, during the Civil War, when the Protestant Republicans fought against the Royalist Catholics. The main love couple is made up of representatives of the warring camps: the soprano is a supporter of Cromwell, the tenor is a supporter of the Stuarts. Their happiness hangs in the balance, the path to it is thorny: imaginary treason, escape, madness, arrest, death sentence, storm; and yet, at the last moment, the authors save their heroes, and the story ends with a happy ending. Reading the summary of The Puritans brings to mind the well-known aphorism of Bellini: "A good musical drama is something that does not have common sense." The Puritans is an excellent musical drama, in which the plot provides the composer with the strongest situations in terms of their emotional intensity. The music of "Puritans" is not only not inferior to the previous masterpieces of Bellini, but also turns out to be one step ahead, in many respects adjoining the new genre of French grand opera. There are not only wondrous vocal beauties here, but also a luxurious differentiated orchestra, powerful choral scenes, and through dramaturgy of scenes. The Puritani is one of the most difficult operas to perform in the history of the genre. Composed for great voices, for the famous "puritan quartet": Giulia Grisi, Giovanni Rubini, Antonio Tamburini and Luigi Lablasha, this music even today requires extraordinary virtuosity from vocalists, fluency in the technique of Italian beautiful singing, as well as a huge range - suffice it to mention the prohibitively high the tenor notes D and F in the third act. The artists of the Mariinsky troupe have already shown their skills in other works by Bellini - the operas Capuleti and Montecchi, La sonnambula, Beatrice di Tenda, Norma, performed in recent years in the Concert Hall of the theater. Now, with the advent of "Puritans" on the poster, another large pearl will adorn the Bellini collection. On June 16, the Puritan Quartet will feature outstanding masters of the Italian repertoire: laureate of the Onegin National Opera Prize Maharram Huseynov (for the first time) and Albina Shagimuratova, who starred as Elvira at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Christina Batyushina