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 Paris, January 24, 1835. At the same time, Bellini composed an alternative version intended for the famous Maria Malibran, who was to sing it in Naples; in fact, this version was not performed on stage until April 10, 1986 at the Teatro Petruzzelli, Bari.
A fortress near Plymouth, 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").
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").
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