I puritani (The Puritans) is an opera in three acts, by Vincenzo Bellini. Text by Count Carlo Pepoli after Têtes rondes et Cavaliers by Jacques d'Ancelot & Boniface Saintine. First produced at the Théâtre Italiens in Paris, January 24, 1835. At the same time, Bellini composed an alternative version intended fo the famous Maria Malibran, who was to sing it in Naples; in fact, this version was not performed until April 10, 1986 at the Teatro Petruzzelli, Bari.
ACT I. A fortress near Plymouth, commanded by Lord Walton. His daughter, Elvira, has been promised in marriage to Sir Richard Forth by Lord Walton but, when he finds she is in love with Lord Arthur Talbot, a cavalier, he relents and arranges for her marriage with him. Upon his arrival, Talbot finds that Queen Henrietta is imprisoned in the fortress and assists her to escape, wrapped in Elvira's bridal veil. On the way, they encounter Forth and, when he discovers that the woman with Talbot is not Elvira, he is content to let them pass. When the escape is discovered, Elvira believes herself deserted and loses her reason.
ACT II. Another part of the fortress. It concerns itself chiefly with exhibitions of Elvira's madness.
ACT III. A grove near the fortress. Talbot, who is proscribed, returns to see Elvira. The meeting temporarily restores her reason. Even when he hears the men in pursuit of him, Talbot refuses to leave her and is captured. He is about to be executed when word is brought of the pardoning of all prisoners; and this shock of joy permanently restores Elvira's reason.
References and external links: Plot taken from The Opera Goer's Complete Guide by Leo Melitz, 1921 version.
The following three recordings were recommended by the BBC Radio 3 programme Building a Library in 2005: