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I puritani (The Puritans) is an opera in three acts, by Vincenzo Bellini. It is his last opera. Its libretto is by Count Carlo Pepoli based on Têtes rondes et Cavaliers by Jacques-François Ancelot and Joseph Xavier Saintine, which is in turn based on Walter Scott's novel Old Mortality. It was first produced at the Théâtre-Italien in Parismarker, January 24, 1835. At the same time, Bellini composed an alternative version intended for the famous Maria Malibran, who was to sing it in Naplesmarker; in fact, this version was not performed on stage until April 10, 1986 at the Teatro Petruzzelli, Barimarker.


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Role Voice type Premiere Cast, January 24, 1835
(Conductor: - )
Lord Arturo Talbo tenor Giovanni Battista Rubini
Elvira, betrothed to Arturo soprano Giulia Grisi
Sir Riccardo Forth baritone Antonio Tamburini
Sir Giorgio Valton bass Luigi Lablache
Lord Gualtiero Valton, Elvira's father and Giorgio's brother bass Luigi Profeti
Sir Bruno Robertson tenor M. Magliano
Enrichetta di Francia, widow of Charles I mezzo-soprano Maria Amigo
Soldiers, heralds, armigers, Puritans, lords and ladies, pages, servants


Place: England during the English Civil War
Time: 1640s

Act 1

A fortress near Plymouthmarker, commanded by Lord Gualtiero Valton

At daybreak, the Puritan soldiers anticipate victory over the Royalists. Riccardo had been promised Elvira's hand in marriage by Lord Valton but, returning to Plymouth, he finds that she is in love with Arturo (a Royalist), and will marry him instead. He confides in Bruno ("Ah! Per sempre ... Bel sogno beato").

In Elvira's apartments, Giorgio reveals that it was he who persuaded Lord Valton to grant Elvira's wish. She is overjoyed.

Arturo arrives for the wedding and celebrates his new-found happiness ("A te, o cara"). Valton is to take a mysterious lady (suspected of being a Royalist spy) to appear before Parliament. Arturo discovers that she is Enrichetta (Henrietta Maria), widow of the executed King Charles I. Elvira appears singing a joyful polonaise ("Son vergin vezzosa"), but drops her wedding veil as she departs to make ready for the wedding. Arturo uses the veil to disguise Enrichetta as Elvira and so enabling her to escape. On the way, they encounter Riccardo and, when he discovers that the woman with Arturo is not Elvira, he is content to let them pass. When the escape is discovered, Elvira believes herself deserted and loses her reason ("Oh, vieni al tempio, fedele Arturo").

Act 2

Another part of the fortress

Giorgio describes Elvira's madness ("Cinta di fiori"). Riccardo brings the news that Arturo is now a fugitive who has been condemned to death for allowing Enrichetta to escape. Elvira now appears, still deranged but longing for Arturo ("Qui la voce ...Vien, diletto"). Giorgio and Riccardo argue over whether Arturo's death will mean that Elvira will die of grief, but eventually agree that he must die if he is found fighting for the Royalists in the impending battle ("Il rival salvar tu dei ... Suoni la tromba").

Act 3

The countryside near the fortress, three months later

Arturo is still on the run, but has returned to see Elvira. He hears her singing ("A una fonte afflitto e solo") and they are reunited ("Vieni fra le mie braccie"). But Elvira fears that they will again be parted, and when Riccardo arrives, with Giorgio and the soldiers, to announce Arturo's death sentence, she finally comes to her senses. An ensemble ("Credeasi, misera") develops, during which the unusually high note of an F above high C is required from Arturo, and even Riccardo is moved by the plight of the lovers. The soldiers demand Arturo's execution, but word is brought that, although the Royalists have been defeated, Oliver Cromwell has pardoned all prisoners. The lovers are finally united for good.


Year Cast
(Elvira, Arturo, Riccardo, Giorgio)
Opera House and Orchestra
1953 Maria Callas,
Giuseppe di Stefano,
Rolando Panerai,
Nicola Rossi-Lemeni

Tullio Serafin,
La Scalamarker Orchestra and Chorus
Audio CD: EMI Classics
(heavily cut)
1973 Beverly Sills,
Nicolai Gedda,
Louis Quilico,
Paul Plishka

Julius Rudel,
London Philharmonic Orchestra and Ambrosian Opera Chorus
Audio CD: Millennium Classics
Cat: 471 207-2
1973 Joan Sutherland,
Luciano Pavarotti,
Piero Cappuccilli,
Nicolai Ghiaurov

Richard Bonynge,
London Symphony Orchestra and chorus of the Royal Opera Housemarker
Audio CD: Decca
Cat: 417 588-2
1979 Montserrat Caballé,
Alfredo Kraus,
Matteo Manuguerra,
Agostino Ferrin

Riccardo Muti,
Philharmonia Orchestra and the Ambrosian Opera Chorus
Audio CD: EMI Classics


  • The Opera Goer's Complete Guide by Leo Melitz, 1921 version.


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