In his latest Decca DVD release, bel canto star Juan Diego Flórez undertakes the role of Elvino in Bellini’s romantic drama, playing opposite the mercurial French soprano, Natalie Dessay, in the Met’s striking, modern-dress production from March 2009. Bellini’s romantic opera La Sonnambula (1831), hinges on the love and misunderstanding between Elvino and Amina (the ‘sleepwalker’ of the title). Discovered in the bedroom of Rodolfo, Amina is assumed to have been unfaithful, and Elvino cancels their wedding. But in the dramatic final scene, he witnesses Amina sleepwalking, understands her innocence, and all ends happily. Mary Zimmerman’s production plays with the dual realities of a rehearsal of the opera and a performance of the opera itself.
With this new production of La traviata at the 2011 Aix-en-Provence Festival, Natalie Dessay made her first European appearances as Verdi’s Violetta, a pinnacle of the soprano repertoire. She made her debut in the role in 2009 at the Santa Fe Festival in the US, and subsequently sang Violetta in Japan. Dessay’s 2011-12 season will include La traviata at the Vienna State Opera (in this Aix-en-Provence production by French theatre and opera director Jean-François Sivadier) and the New York Metropolitan.
In the 1960s and '70s there was growing concern within Celtic music circles that the perceived lack of interest and participation could jeopardize the future of that tradition. With the arrival and subsequent success of artists like Altan, Seamus Egan, Eileen Ivers, and Ashley MacIsaac, those worries amount to nothing but a distant memory. The educational opportunities are now abundant, the development of talent is ongoing, and the fruits of these efforts are being harvested routinely. One of the 1990s' most exciting and gifted fiddlers is Natalie MacMaster from Cape Breton, the wonderfully Celtic-rich region of Nova Scotia.