|I Puritani Synopsis|
|I Puritani Libretto|
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|Next scene:||Sulla virginea testa|
THE MUSIC: "I puritani" was Bellini's last opera. It premiered in Paris in January 1835, and Bellini died in September 1835 at the age of 33. It was tremendously successful and the opera was performed regularly throughout Europe and in New York until the early 1900s. It went mostly dormant until it caught the public's attention during the bel canto revival ignited by Maria Callas and carried forward by Joan Sutherland, Beverly Sills, Edita Gruberova, and others. The aria "Son vergin vezzosa" is a joyous "polacca" (polonaise) in Act I where Elvira sings in elaborate fashion about her lovely wedding garb. This triggers a plot device whereby Elvira's wedding veil is used to disguise another woman so she can escape the castle with Arturo as her protector. Since Arturo is Elvira's fiancÃ©, she thinks he has betrayed her and goes mad. In the opera, the aria has several interjections by other characters, so it is often abridged when performed by a solo soprano in concert or recital.
THE SONGBIRD: Anna Moffo (1932 - 2006) was born in Pennsylvania and became an international operatic superstar on stage, film, television, and recordings. She studied at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, then ventured to Italy on a Fulbright Scholarship. Moffo made her debut as Norina in Spoleto in 1955. Mario Lanfranchi then cast her as Cio-Cio-San in an Italian television production of "Madama Butterfly" in 1956, which made her an overnight star. They were married in 1957. Debuts for Moffo followed quickly in European cities (Vienna, Salzburg, Naples, Milan) and she began recording commercially in high-profile sessions (Musetta to Callas' Mimi, Nannetta for Von Karajan, etc.). She returned to the U.S. in 1957 for a series of successful debuts in Chicago (Mimi), San Francisco (Amina), and at The Met in New York (Violetta). Her Met career includes over 200 performances of about 20 roles across 17 seasons. In the late 1960s, her focus shifted back to Europe to star in several Italian films and appearances in German television and operetta films. Moffo was a prolific recording star with dozens of operatic, operetta, and even pop records in her discography.
Son vergin vezzosa in vesta di sposa;
son bianca ed umile qual giglio d'april,
ho chiome odorose cui cinser tue rose,
ho il seno gentile del tuo monil.
Qual mattutina stella
bella voglio brillar;
del crin le moli anella
mi giova ad aggraziar,
I'm a charming virgin in a wedding dress
I'm white and humble as an April lily,
I have perfumed hair which is bound
by your roses,
I have my gentle breast to wear your necklace.
Like a morning star
beautifully I wish to shine;
in my hair the heavy ring
is useful to make it graceful