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 Amina.

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 village. )

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.


Verinha Ottoni.


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