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Everyone takes some time to settle down in this performance of Bellini’s early masterpiece, filmed in 2012 at San Francisco Opera. Tuning seems to be a problem for everyone, though by the end of act I things have improved vastly. Joyce DiDonato makes a strong visual impression as romeo, but her mezzo doesn’t display the plush quality that the vocal lines demand. Once past her opening aria, however, she provides a typically serious and detailed performance. Nicole Cabell is good as Giulietta, though her soprano lacks the ethereal quality that would elevate her performance. Saimir Pirgu’s tenor lacks either bravura or seduction as Tebaldo – a commonplace instrument on this showing. Eric Owens’s Capellio is a growly thing, lacking tonal focus. Riccardo Frizza’s conducting is idiomatic. Vincent Boussard’s production, updated to the nineteenth century, is serious and spare and unfortunately hideously lit, making an attractive cast look ghastly. Even my oft overly-exuberant taste is overwhelmed by Christian Lacroix’s gaudy costumes.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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