BELLINI Puritani / Flórez, D'Arcangelo, Mariotti 0743350

A pretty great production . . . [Machaidze's performance of the Act Two "Mad Scene"] may pierce and shake you, as well as creep you out. The scene is well- staged and darkly lit, and she sings "Qui la voce sua soave" with heart-splitting pathos. Director Andrea Bevilacqua leads her well, as she wanders distractedly around the stage entreating the thin air, watched in horror by her uncle Giorgio and former suitor Ricardo. The sudden tempo changes reflecting her madness is musically exhilarating and dramatically terrifying . . . As conductor, Michele Mariotti does a sterling job of shuttling the action along, both through his zesty intros to all three acts and through his transparent accompaniment . . . There are other compelling moments in this performance, like Giorgio and Ricardo's duet about the wisdom of putting Elvira's Cavalier lover to death, concluded by the stirring "Liberty Duet" ("Suoni la tromba"). Both will seize your attention. The "finale" with the Puritan chorus confronting Elvira and Arturo (and ultimately pardoning them) is initially suspenseful, and finally cathartic.