La Sonnambula - Vincenzo Bellini - Royal Opera House - Covent Garden
I saw Bellini's opera La
Sonnambula (The Sleepwalker), with
libretto by Felice Romani after Eugene
Scribe. Maurizio Benini conducted
the ROH orchestra and Elena Kelesidi
played the lead role of Amina.
And the story goes... .
ACT 1. Amina's approaching wedding
with Elvino is being celebrated. Only
Elvino's former lover Lisa is sad.
She cannot resign herself to the attentions
of her new admirer, Alessio. During
the engagement ceremony Elvino presents
Amina with a ring of his recently
deceased mother. A stranger arrives.
It is Count Rodolfo, a native of the
region. However, due to an absence
of many years, nobody recognises him.
Amina attracts his admiration, thus
provoking Elvino's jealousy. Lisa,
having guessed the Counts real identity,
beings to flirt with him.
Amina enters the room, sleeping walking.
She is dreaming of Elvino. Alone with
her the Count restrains himself from
taking advantage of the lovely, half-dressed
women. Lisa quickly fetches Elvino;
when the bridegroom finds Amina sleeping,
wrapped in Rodolfo's coat; the situation
seems self-explanatory to him. Teresa
comforts the rejected and desperate
ACT 2. Elvino is distraught. Amina's
protestations of her innocence are
useless; he takes the ring from her
finger and breaks off the engagement.
Lisa already sees herself as Elvino's
new bride. The Count tries to clear
up false accusations, explaining that
Amina was sleepwalking and is not
guilty of any wrongdoing, but he is
unable to convince Elvino. When Teresa
finds out about Elvino's new wedding
plans, she reveals what she saw happening
between Lisa and the Count the night
before. Elvino now feels betrayed
by his second future wife. As Count
Rodolfo is trying to save the situation
by insisting on Amina's innocence,
she appears sleepwalking again. Seeing
her in this stage, Elvino understands
how the situation arose the night
before. He embraces her again as his
bride; Amina sings of her happiness.
In this production the set is simply
stunning. There is a silvery Art Deco
dinning hall with a stage at the back
and above it an upper level walkway
leading to numbered hotel rooms; plus
there is a view of spectacular snow-clad
mountain peak seen through a vast
two-storey window. Marco Arturo had
transposed Bellini's peasant melodrama
from an Alpine village to a modern
Alpine health hotel, which is witty
and charming though it does ruin the
premise of the story. (That Amina's
innocent sleepwalking, which leads
her to the Count's room is not understood
by the native inhabitants of her remote
Elena Kelesidi was sweet and charming
in the role of Amina. Elvino played
by the young Peruvian tenor star Juan
Diego Florez, is completed assured
and stylish. In this modern setting
Elvino is a composer, Amina is a waitress,
and Lisa doubles as a cocktail hostess.
I was very excited to follow this
opera with one of the main characters
the same as my mothers - Elvina. I
think the origin of the name is Spanish
meaning El Vino.