I puritani

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Work data
Title: The Puritans
Original title: I puritani
Luigi Lablache and Giulia Grisi at the King's Theater, London 1835

Luigi Lablache and Giulia Grisi at the King's Theater , London 1835

Shape: Opera seria in three acts
Original language: Italian
Music: Vincenzo Bellini
Libretto : Carlo Pepoli
Literary source: Têtes rondes et cavaliers by Jacques-François Ancelot and Xavier-Boniface Saintine .
Premiere: January 24, 1835
Place of premiere: Théâtre-Italy , Paris
Playing time: about 3 hours
Place and time of the action: The opera is currently set by Oliver Cromwell near Plymouth, England
  • Lord Gualtiero Valton, Governor General, Puritans ( Bass )
  • Sir Giorgio, retired colonel, his brother, Puritan (bass)
  • Lord Arturo Talbo, cavalier, partisan of the Stuarts ( tenor )
  • Sir Riccardo Forth, Colonel, Puritan Baritone
  • Sir Bruno Roberton, Officer, Puritan (tenor)
  • Enrichetta di Francia, actually Queen Henrietta Maria of France , widow of Charles I , under the name Dama di Villa Forte ( soprano )
  • Elvira, daughter of Lord Valton (soprano)
  • Soldiers of Cromwells, heralds and soldiers of Lord Arturo and Valton, Puritans, crew of the fortress, ladies, pages, servants ( choir , extras)

I puritani (also I puritani di Scozia ; The Puritans or The Puritans of Scotland ) is an opera seria by Vincenzo Bellini . It was premiered on January 24, 1835 at the Théâtre-Italien in Paris .


The action takes place near Plymouth during the English Civil War. The Puritan military leader Oliver Cromwell decisively defeated the armed forces of the royalists in 1644 and ousted the monarch Charles I. When his followers, the "Cavaliers", rise again in 1648, the king is imprisoned and executed a year later.

first act

The loyal Arturo and the Puritan's daughter Elvira love each other. Riccardo also loves Elvira. However, when Arturo meets Enrichetta, the widow of the executed Stuart king, shortly before the wedding, he is determined to save her. Riccardo witnesses this. Elvira interprets Arturo's disappearance as a breach of loyalty and goes mad.

Second act

Arturo is sentenced to death in absentia. Elvira wants to die and wanders half mad through the Puritan fortress. Sir Giorgio is able to persuade Riccardo to stand up for the pardon of his rival after the fight in order to save Elvira.

Third act

Arturo returns and convinces Elvira of his loyalty, whereupon she comes back to her senses. Arturo is arrested and sees no more hope. Riccardo, however, brings the pardon. General joy.



The orchestral line-up for the opera includes the following instruments:

Music numbers

first act

  • No. 1. Introduction: All'erta
  • No. 2. Recitative and aria: Ah! Per semper io ti perdei (Riccardo)
  • No. 3. Scene and duet: Sai com'arde in petto mio (Elvira, Giorgio)
  • No. 4. Choir and Quartet: A te, o cara (Arturo, Elvira, Giorgio, Valton)
  • No. 5. Finale I: Il rito augusto si compia senza me

Second act

  • No. 6. Introduction and Romance: Cinta di fiori (Giorgio)
  • No. 7th scene and aria: Qui la voce sua soave (Elvira)
  • No. 8. Duet - Finale II: Il rival salvar tu dêi (Giorgio, Riccardo)

Third act

  • No. 9. Storm, Romance and Duet (Arturo, Elvira)
  • No. 10. Finale III: Ancora s'ascolta questo suon molesto (all)

Discography (selection)

Work history


After the failure of the opera Beatrice di Tenda (1833), Bellini fell out with his longtime librettist Felice Romani . In Paris, Bellini met the liberal poet Carlo Pepoli , who was commissioned to write the text for the new opera. The basis of the libretto is the historical drama Têtes rondes et cavaliers (1833) by Jacques-François Ancelot and Xavier-Boniface Saintine . The original title of the opera adaptation I puritani di Scozia is based on a translation of Walter Scott's novel Old Mortality (1816), with which the opera has nothing in terms of content (the opera is not set in Scotland); they just wanted to cling to the then rampant Walter Scott fashion. However, Pepoli did not have the necessary stage experience, so that Bellini found himself repeatedly forced to intervene in the drafting of the libretto himself; and Gioachino Rossini is said to have been involved with corrective instructions in this work. In the course of the difficult text work and the arguments with Pepoli, Bellini's notorious adage came up that a good libretto is one that has no real meaning. The libretto of I puritani , in which the English revolution only forms the background for a conventional love story, seems to want to underpin this dictum and is therefore considered to be a failure:

“The implausible story of I Puritani can hardly be taken seriously; it lacks credibility and the weak framework is teeming with ineffective motives. […] What makes this dusty and whimsical work remarkable are the isolated expressions of emotion by the main characters, beautifully drawn in Bellini's melodic magic language. Although I Puritani does not bring anything significant to the stage, this opera is one of the most refined that the theater has ever produced. "

Of I Puritani , there are two versions: Coinciding with the work on the first performed in Paris and now widespread Bellini created yet another version for Naples, he even completed it earlier. This version has some differences: The role of Elvira was supposed to be played by a mezzo-soprano with Maria Malibran ; for Riccardo (baritone in Paris), however, a tenor was provided. The famous duet Riccardo-Giorgio (“Suoni la tromba”) from the second act is missing in this version; Bellini only wrote it after completing the Neapolitan version for the Paris premiere. In contrast, the Neapolitan version contains some parts that Bellini should delete in the Paris version, such as a trio in Finale I, a recitative in Act II and the cabaletta in Finale III. The performance in Naples ultimately did not take place. This version was first performed in concert in London in 1985; a scenic premiere followed on April 1, 1986 in Bari.


Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti in I puritani , 1976

The premiere in Paris on January 24, 1835 was Bellini's last triumph, to which the "unsurpassable line-up" with Grisi , Rubini , Tamburini and Lablache also contributed. The Italian premiere took place in 1835 at La Scala in Milan , and in the following years the work was given on almost all opera stages in the country. The German premiere took place in Berlin as early as 1835, and the Puritans were first performed in Munich in 1840 . Further milestones were London in 1847 and New York in 1883. In 1866 the opera was selected for the grand opening of the newly built Royal Opera House in Valletta . "Since the late 19th century, the Puritani have been seen as a monument to a bygone era in operatic history, as a vocal showpiece for soprano and tenor stars." As with many Belcanto operas , this view was reflected in the casting practice: Elvira was cast as the coloratura soprano, Arturo , whose part requires the three-stroke F, "degenerated into a touchstone for mastering tenoral peaks".

The return to the original intentions did not take place until the middle of the 20th century, when - as in a number of similar cases - Maria Callas “combined virtuosity with dramatic expression”. Callas sang Elvira only 17 times on stage, for the first time in Venice in 1949, in Florence, Rome and Mexico in 1952 (live recordings received) and finally in Chicago in 1955; In 1953 she sang the role in the studio. These interpretations were "of importance for the future performance history of this opera as well as for the reception of the bel canto opera in general." Joan Sutherland in particular continued this tradition in the 1970s.

With this, opera, which had become rare in opera houses since the beginning of the 20th century without having completely disappeared, also returned to the repertoire. Recently, I puritani have even been staged quite often, for example in 1999 in Munich with Edita Gruberová , Stefan Herheim's production from 2002/2003 at the Staatstheater Kassel even received the Götz Friedrich Prize , and in 2006 there was a performance in New York Anna Netrebko , 2010 in Geneva with Diana Damrau ., 2016 in Zurich with Pretty Yende as Elvira or 2019 in Düsseldorf under the direction of Rolando Villazón with Adela Zaharia. The Puritans can now even be found in the repertoire of smaller theaters, for example in 2010 at the Landestheater Niederbayern or in 2011 in Essen.


  • Friedrich Lippmann : I puritani. In: Piper's Encyclopedia of Musical Theater. Volume 1: Works. Abbatini - Donizetti. Piper, Munich / Zurich 1986, ISBN 3-492-02411-4 , pp. 257-260.

Web links

Commons : I puritani  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g Friedrich Lippmann : I puritani. In: Piper's Encyclopedia of Musical Theater. Volume 1: Works. Abbatini - Donizetti. Piper, Munich / Zurich 1986, ISBN 3-492-02411-4 , pp. 257-260.
  2. a b c Niel Rishoi: I Puritani: Bellini and the Belcanto. In: Supplement to the CD, 1994, p. 17.
  3. ^ Anthony Tommasini: At the Met, a Soprano Makes Her Presence Known. In: New York Times . December 29, 2006.
  4. Thomas Schacher: The enemy within. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung . February 3, 2011.
  5. Thomas Schacher: Political Thriller or Jealous Drama? In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung. 20th June 2016.