AN INTRODUCTION TO BELLINI (David Timson) (Naxos: 8.558175)
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This audio book series introduces, in words and music, the plot and background of major operas. Using the principal themes and arias, taken from the Naxos recordings of the complete works, the presentation is informative yet entertaining, enabling the listener to get more from this remarkable art form.
'La sonnambula' was written by Bellini as a vehicle for two of the supreme singers of his age and accordingly is a fine example of the school we call bel canto, where beauty of voice and the virtuosity of the singers is integral to conveying the emotions in the soul of the composer.
The fact that Bellini was one of the great melodists, writing long, beautiful vocal lines, that he was a master orchestrator and that he could write stirringly for the chorus all conspire to make 'La sonnambula' an extremely enjoyable example of Italian opera in its prime.