La sonnambula was written by Bellini as a vehicle for two of the supreme singers of his age and accordingly is a fine example of the school we call bel canto, where beauty of voice and the virtuosity of the singers is integral to conveying the emotions in the soul of the composer. The fact that Bellini was one of the great melodists, writing long, beautiful vocal lines, that he was a master orchestrator, and that he could write stirringly for the chorus all conspire to make La sonnambula an extremely enjoyable example of Italian opera in its prime.
Thomson Smillie’s series Opera Explained is an ingenious and enchanting production that makes opera accessible to listeners of all types. In this edition, Smillie helps listeners achieve a higher understanding and appreciation for the comic opera L’elisir d’amore, by Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti. By mixing the beautiful pieces of music from the opera with Smillie’s insightful and entertaining examinations - performed expertly by veteran narrator David Timson - listeners are given the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful example from one of the more unapproachable forms of art.