La Sonnambula - Vincenzo Bellini,Anna Moffo

La Sonnambula - Vincenzo Bellini,Anna Moffo

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Anna Moffo stars in this 1956 film version of Bellini’s lyrical masterpiece. Mario Lanfranchi directs. The RAI Orchestra & Chorus are under the direction of Bruno Bartoletti. Sung in Italian, with optional English subtitles.

This Italian television production of Bellini’s La Sonnambula, telecast live on December 19, 1956, captures Anna Moffo at the start of her meteoric rise to international prominence. Given the confidence and polish of her performance, it is astonishing to note that, aside from a performance as Norina in Don Pasquale at the Spoleto Festival the year before, the demanding role of Amina in La Sonnambula was the young soprano’s first encounter with the bel canto repertoire. From the start, the poignantly arching lyric lines and ecstatic coloratura passages suited her voice and temperament perfectly. Before long, she was engaged by RAI to sing a live broadcast of I Puritani, followed by television productions of Lucia di Lammermoor and The Daughter of the Regiment, and it soon became apparent that the operas of Bellini, Donizetti, and middle Verdi would become the cornerstones of the Moffo repertoire throughout the world.

The director for La Sonnambula was the estimable Mario Lanfranchi, who exhibits an imaginative artistic creativity that is always consistent with the intentions of the composer and librettist. Few operatic films illucidate the drama of the works as clearly and brilliantly as those Lanfranchi made with Anna Moffo. These include La Traviata (1968) and Lucia di Lammermoor (1971), both available on DVD from Video Artists International.

The performance is conducted by the eminent maestro Bruno Bartoletti, who went on to forge a unique relationship with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, serving as the company’s artistic director from 1964 until his retirement in 1999. The cast for La Sonnambula is rounded out by the fine lyric tenor Danilo Vega and the noted bass Plinio Clabassi, who was a strong presence in the operatic world of the 1950s and ‘60s. Lastly, mention must be made of Giuseppe Nessi, who makes a brief appearance in this production as the Notary. Nessi (1889-1961) was a veteran comprimario tenor who had created the role of Pong in the world premiere of Puccini’s Turandot in 1926, conducted by Arturo Toscanini. He was a mainstay at La Scala from 1921–1959 and can be heard on numerous complete operatic recordings of the era.

La Sonnambula

Opera in Two Acts
Music by Vincenzo Bellini
Libretto by Felice Romani

Amina: Anna Moffo
Rodolfo: Plinio Clabassi
Teresa: Anna Maria Anelli
Elvino: Danilo Vega
Lisa: Gianna Galli
Alessio: Guido Mazzini
Un Notaro: Giuseppe Nessi

Orchestra de Coro di Milano della Televisione Italiana
conducted by Bruno Bartoletti
Directed by Mario Lanfranchi

Originally telecast December 1956

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