Bellini’s Straniera in Essen

Bellini’s La Straniera (The Stranger) is indeed strange. Some important aspects of the plot and the motivations of the characters are difficult to understand and confusing. For his production at the Essen Opera, Christof Loy communicated in an interview published in the programme some interesting explanations and insights about the work. But, interesting programme notes are not by themselves sufficient to render a piece meaningful; they must be carried over into what happens on the stage. And it has to be said that what we saw did not do much to overcome the problems in Bellini’s opera and the staging was for the most part dull. Reasonably well sung, and that after Marlis Petersen in the title role had sought indulgence for the effects of a cold, the performance lacked conviction and failed to engage the heart and mind.