Vincenzo Bellini 1801 – 1835
Melodrama in two acts
Libretto by Felice Romani after the libretto by Eugène Scribe for the ballet La Somnambule ou L’Arrivée d’un nouveau Seigneur (1827) by Jean-Pierre Aumer
First performed March 6th 1831, Teatro Carcano, Milan
Sung in Italian with German surtitles
First ever performances in Frankfurt
Duration: 2 hours 45 min. with one interval
08.01.2015 |11.01.2015 |
Eun Sun Kim
Oper Frankfurt’s Orchestra and Chorus
About the work
The story of the beautiful sleepwalker Amina unfolds in seemingly endless, flowing arcs of melody. Bellini’s score rolls out like a loving carpet for bel canto. The ambiguousity in the music only becomes clear when interpreted precisely by the soloists, chorus and orchestra. This challenge is made clear by explicit instructions the composer wrote in the score. Uncertainty, reflected in the mixed genre of opera semi seria, and portrayal of the fragility of human existence corresponds to a heightened awareness of being alive prevalent at a time marked by radical political change and uncertainty. Changes were also underway in Italian music. After Rossini stopped composing Bellini and Donizetti were now Italy’s leading operatic composers. Bellini’s Il pirata (1827) was the foundation stone for Italian romantic opera. La Sonnambula was a great success when it first opened on March 6th 1831.
Everyone is thrilled about Elvino and Amina’s imminent wedding, except Lisa, Elvino’s former lover, who gives good hearted Alessio …
Everyone is thrilled about Elvino and Amina’s imminent wedding, except Lisa, Elvino’s former lover, who gives good hearted Alessio’s attentions the cold shoulder. Amina’s step-mother Teresa guards the secret of her sleepwalking. Elvino arrives late – he had been praying at his mother’s grave for her blessing. The notary asks what they will bring to their marriage Elvino: „My farm, house, name, all I possess. Amina has „only her heart“ to give. He puts his mother’s ring on her finger, they are engaged. A stranger, Rodolfo, appears, making hints about the return of the dead Count’s lost son. He and Amina share a mutual fascination. Dusk: the villagers are uneasy and – egged on by Teresa, because this „explanation“ is useful – say that a ghost is seen every night. Rodolfo just laughs, and takes a room in Lisa’s hotel.
When Lisa checks to see if he needs anything, they start getting to know one another better. Amina appears, sleepwalking. Lisa flees Rodolfo’s embrace and room, forgetting her scarf. Amina talks of her beloved Elvino, treats Rodolfo tenderly before withdrawing again. The villagers, having heard that Rodolfo is the dead Count’s lost son, arrive. When Amina awakes she finds herself surrounded by them. Elvino breaks off their engagement. Teresa finds Lisa’s scarf.
The villagers want the new Count to explain the situation. Amina cannot convince Elvino of her innocence. He pulls the ring from her finger. The story takes another unexpected turn: Elvino has decided to marry Lisa. On the way to church they meet Rodolfo, who vouches for Amina’s fidelity. He explains the phenomenon of sleepwalking. Nobody believes him. Teresa, the scarf as evidence, disproves what Lisa maintains, that she, unlike Amina, has never been alone at night in a strange man’s room. Lisa is now the outcast. Amina appears, sleepwalking, dangerously high above the ground. She speaks of her deep love for Elvino and pain she feels at the loss of his love. Elvino wants her back. The village rejoices.