Bellini's rarely staged opera La Sannambula returns to Russian Bolshoi theatre after 121 years.
On Sunday (March 3) the international cast led by American soprano Laura Claycomband South African tenor Colin Lee gathered on stage for the general rehearsal of the production.
"It's been a long trajectory of many different bel canto heroines that I've sung over the years but I've never sung in an actual opera here in Moscow besides in concert when I did Lucia di Lammermoor a few years back in concert. So it is a great pleasure and a culmination of many bel canto heroines to come here finally to sing my very first Sonnambula," said Laura Claycomb, one of the world's finest operatic coloratura sopranos.
For South African tenor Colin Lee La Sonnambula is also the first operatic role on the Bolshoi stage.
"As far as working at the Bolshoi I've enjoyed it very much. It's a wonderful opportunity, it's my first time at the Bolshoi in the opera, although I sang in the Tchaikovsky Concert Halllast year. It's been absolutely wonderful, not difficult at all," Colin Lee said.
The original Bellin's opera was set in a Swiss village and tells a love story of village girlAmina who is a sleepwalker and a young boy, Elvino. One night Amina was found in a room of another man where she sleepwalked. Elvino rejected her refusing to believe she was sleepwalking. He decided to marry Lisa who lied about Amina's adultery to winElvino. Truth came out in the end and Lisa's plot to part Amina and Elvino failed.
The Bolshoi production differs from the original setting.
"It will not be an anticipated by everyone classical Italian version as there are a lot of birch trees and there is something perhaps Chekhovian about it. You'll see for yourself and understand what I mean. But I think it will be close to everyone's heart to the extent that this production will make its way into our repertoire and we will all see it more frequently than other productions on this stage," said Bolshoi soprano Anna Aglatovawho plays the role of Lisa.
Bellin's opera premiered in Milan on March 6, 1831, and was a great success in its days.
The 2013 Moscow production was directed by Pier Luigi Pizzi. A great admirer of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Pizzi said in many ways he was influenced by Chekhov when working on his Moscow La Sonnambula production and praised the actors and the production team for helping him in implementing his ideas.
"I have worked in this theatre for 40 days. We've done a great job with technical staff and a magnificent choir, who brought me lots of pleasure and satisfaction. And also there is a great dancing troupe with their chief choreographer Ekaterina Mironova. The atmosphere was very pleasant, very amicable, and it made my work even more serious and professional," said Pier Luigi Pizzi.
Musical director and conductor Enrique Mazzola said La Sonnambula was an opera that is rarely produced. Bellini's music written in bel canto tradition requires 'perfect voices', he said.
"That's true that in 60-70s there was more Bellini, and then he became more rare. Because you need perfect voices, the voices that are made specifically for his repertoire. The voice is in the heart of his repertoire, of La Sonnambula," said Enrique Mazzola.
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