“Since time immemorial, no doubt, men and women have walked in their sleep and said strange things; such behaviours had to be explained by invoking supernatural causes, evil spirits, mysterious gifts, divine or diabolic possessions: once again, this is a case of faulty judgements”.
Libretto by Felice Romani
In a Swiss village in the 19th century, a mysterious spectre prowls around every night. When the beautiful Amina is found asleep in the bed of Count Rodolfo, who is visiting Lisa’s inn, she is accused of adultery. She defends herself strongly. But her betrothed, Elvino, is furious and breaks off the engagement. Will the villagers realise that the wandering ghost is none other than the beautiful and innocent sleepwalker?
A few ingredients cleverly put to verse by the brilliant Felice Romani based on a scenario by Eugène Scribe were all it took to give sublime wings to the bel canto of Bellini. The touching pastoral idyll, populated by festive villagers, featuring the beautiful and tender sleepwalker, Amina, as diaphanous as one of Chopin’s nocturnes, could not fail to hit the mark in 1831, when the world was fascinated by strange phenomena and sleepwalking in particular.
Intended for the stars of the stage, Giuditta Pasta and Giovanni Rubini, the masterpiece, which is the quintessence of the vocal art in Bellini’s works and crowned with a lieto fine, deploys a lyrical tone that culminates in the famous cavatina of Amina, “Ah! Non credea mirarti” where the desperate heroine, unjustly accused of infidelity, believes she is about to die… These few unforgettable notes were engraved on the tombstone of Vincenzo Bellini in Catania, following his premature death at the age of 34 years.
- Most recent performance at the ORW
November 2001 (concert version)
- New production
Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège
Jaco Van Dormael
Director & choreography
Michèle Anne De Mey