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8/21/2001: I have been asked to comment on Vincenzo Bellini’s I Capuleti ed i Montecchi (The Capulets & the Montagues), which I am delighted to be conducting at the New York City Opera beginning September 25, 2001. It seems incredible, but this would appear to be the first fully staged production of this work by a professional opera company in New York. We are aware of concert performances and productions at the conservatories, but if visitors let us know professional productions that we do not know of, we will gladly post your input.

In addition to Giulietta’s well-known aria Oh! quante volte, there are several magnificent and exciting sections of the opera:

  • The beautiful final scene which masterfully combines dramatic orchestral recitativo and the exquisite melodic writing that was Bellini’s hallmark.
  • The dramatic duet between Romeo and Tibaldo in Act II.
  • The cabaletta of Romeo’s first aria (La tremenda ultrice spada).

The opera also contains several very original and effective orchestral solos: the horn before Oh! quante volte and the clarinet before the Romeo-Tibaldo duet, as well as the shorter cello solo at the beginning of Act II.

There appears to be a revival of interest in Bellini as well as in the opere serie of Rossini. After the last 30 years of enthusiasm for compositional complexity and a strong architectural or developmental bent (e.g., Beethoven, Berlioz, Wagner, Strauss, Mahler), it seems we can again also begin to admire those writers who achieved greatness through the sheer beauty of their lyric gifts (Gluck, Bellini, Schubert, Bruckner).

A final word about some of the embellishments: I have written melodic variations in the spirit of what Bellini himself did in Oh! quante volte (at the words Raggio del suo sembiante). In addition to the more common cadential decorations, I feel that this is very much in the spirit of Bellini and part of his style.

Here are audio samples. These are simple, home-made tapes of the piano only. You will get the best results if you use headphones and keep the volume low.

Giulietta’s aria and variation by Bellini himself (51 seconds):

Tibaldo’s aria and variation by Joseph Rescigno (95 seconds):

©2001 by Joseph Rescigno. The text here may be freely reproduced for non-commercial purposes as long as credit is given.

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