Vincenzo Bellini – La sonnambula
CAST: Amina: Luba Orgonasova, Elvino: Raul Giménez, Count Rodolfo: Francesco Ellero d’Artegna, Lisa: Dilbèr, Teresa: Alexandra Papadijakou, Alessio: Nanco de Vries, A Notary: Ioan Micu
The Netherlands Radio Choir
The Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra
Alberto Zedda, conductor
This fine recording of Bellini‘s La sonnambula has been recorded live at the Royal Concertgebouw in 1992 and may be considered one of the best achievements in the opera’s discography, even if its refined and polished character neglects some aspects which are indispensable to me. These features are prevalently due to the intentions of the conductor, as I am going to explain.
Soprano Luba Orgonasova as Amina is particularly interesting. Her voice is crystalline, a bit cold in timbre, but this does not mean at all that her performance is cold too. This peculiarity allows instead to appreciate her precise diction, her limpid phrasing and refined technique and moreover that “crystalline voice” makes her high notes to shine. Amina’s feelings and emotions are expressed with taste and resoluteness, but the character never loses her quiet, submissive disposition. Orgonasova is indeed a singer of great temperament.
Raul Giménez as Elvino is a romantic and delicate young man, which seems more naive and shy than Amina (this is a trick due to the soprano’s temperament, of course), but is generally good, even if sometimes he is not irreproachable. In Ah perché non posso odiarti, for example, Giménez’s accents are not very appropriate and he seems always to the point of imitating some heroic tenor, but fortunately this does not happen frequently and he is more than satisfactory. His voice is not extremely pleasing in the middle register, but is definitely valuable in the high.
Francesco Ellero d’Artegna as Count Rodolfo has a warm, sonorous and fine voice, but he is not particularly worried about expressiveness and especially his aria, Vi ravviso, o luoghi ameni, suffers for it (but this is not completely the singer’s fault, as I will make it clear in a moment).
The less important character are of good level and Dilbèr as Lisa deserves a mention of honour for her positive performance.
At last, Alberto Zedda is here a great conductor as always, but this time he does not reach excellency, in my opinion. Not that he has done something wrong or irreparable, but sometimes I would have preferred slower tempi (as in Ah non credea mirarti). I admit that Zedda’s choice avoids any sort of mawkishness or affectation and is frank and direct, but I have to confess that I felt that something was irremediably lost in the most delicate or nostalgic moments (as Vi ravviso, o luoghi ameni) or when there was the possibility to picture the country landscape which provides the setting of the opera. A little more warm would have benefited immensely to La sonnambula.
Of course, the perfect opera will never exist, especially considering the variety of tastes and preferences, but, despite the objections I raised before, I recognize that this is a very good one. Its positive aspects surpass any defect I mentioned here and will make me continue to listen to it with great pleasure.