GP at the Met: La Sonnambula
Preview of La Sonnambula

Natalie Dessay’s moon-kissed fingernails are all aglow as she “walks the walk” of Vincenzo Bellini’s quintessential character Amina, perhaps the most renowned woman sleepwalker in opera history, in Zimmerman’s production of the 1831 classic La Sonnambula, Latin for “The Somnambulist.” The production will air on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances at the Met Saturday, July 11 at Noon on PBS HD (check local listings) and is rated TV-PG.

Watch a preview:

Great Performances at the Met is a presentation of THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG – one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.

The sixth of Bellini’s professional operas, La Sonnambula is set in a tiny village on the Swiss Alps. Mary Zimmerman’s present-day version, however, is set in a rehearsal space where the actors are staging a production of La Sonnambula set in the Swiss Alps. The story begins as the village is preparing for the wedding of Amina, played by Dessay, and Elvino, played by Juan Diego Flórez (Dessay and Florez just returned from their sensational run together in La Fille du Régiment at opera houses around the world). Themes of jealousy, mistaken identity, and innocence prevail, as Bellini’s sleepwalking beauty is put to the ultimate test to prove her undying love for her betrothed to the hauntingly mysterious music of Bellini and libretto by Felice Romani.
Great Performances At the Met: La Sonnambula is the eighth of 11 productions airing this season on the series. The performance is sung in Italian with English surtitles.

Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers, and PBS. Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers.

Visit Great Performances Online at for additional information on this and other Great Performances programs. For the Met, Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.

  • alex roth

    Is La Sonnambula going to be shown on PBS this Saturday? It is not listed in the monthly program. Please let us know

  • curt

    when is la sonambula being shown

  • rose-noel tillery

    How come that the second act of la Sonnambula on PBS turned out to be Peter and the wolf?

  • Debby

    Thank you, PBS! I flipped through channels and found La Sonnambula on WTTW11. I saw Dessay and Florez (who I fell in love with in La Fille du Régiment) and just tagged this show/production in twitter and facebook. What a *great* idea to update with this set and have contemporary clothing! The entire cast is great and I can tell the production staff put their hearts into this. Introduced to opera–with Beverly Sills–by my father when I was young, I have a hidden love for it. Without the financial means to see an opera in person, I continue to enjoy The Met via PBS and am grateful for this cultural experience.

  • David

    Great performance; please keep showing opera on PBS. The setting in a rehearsal hall was a little off-putting, but you can ignore it. Why no credits on this website for performers other than Dessay and Florez? On screen the credits went by so fast that it was impossible to read them.

  • Will Richards

    The exquisite performances of Dessay, Florez, and chorus brought opera to another exceptional peak of excellence, but the very anachronistic, heavy-handed metaphor akin to a 3rd- grade classroom setting with the stage being trashed, trashcans transported around the set, and childish ripping of cloth and paper (Hey–we GET IT already!) absolutly demolished the very eloquence intended by Bellini. Some dramas should not be “modernized” at the expense of keeping the integrity of these masterpieces. It would also be nice to read the names of ALL the performers and conductor at normal reading speed!

  • Joel Sher

    My heart became open with joyous gratitude for my experience with eyes glued and ears at permanent attention of a marvelous production including special voices making exceptional singing. What a seldom had privilege to partake (even by TV) of a uniquely beautiful performance. A thank you to PBS.

  • Curtis

    This excellent production provided some wonderful close-ups of the singers. The vocal balance among all the leads was exquisite (we didn’t need to hear some “over-the-hill” star wobble through her/his aria!) BUT slow down the credits, please – some of us actually read it! Personally I could have done without the weak attempt of modernization – the music just doesn’t merit such a stretch – it seemed juvenile to me.

  • Bonnie

    Please, please, more opera on PBS. I love it, even if I have to put up with ugly modern costuming and a silly set. Thanks to the wonderful singers. I wish you had ALL been on the credits. Maybe you were…it just went too fast.

  • pat clopper

    All credits go flying by on PBS….very annoying. There was a time when one could actually read the names of the cast as one does at the movies….WETA cuts the screen in half which makes it doubly hard to read.

  • triscribe » Weekends

    [...] coming Thursday: Juan Diego Florez and Natalie Dessay, in “La Sonnambula” on Channel 13’s Great Performances! Well, I’m something of a fan of both of them – Florez especially, as noted in previous [...]

  • Robert Ward

    My PBS station in Detroit rightfully realizes that opera is elitist and never shows it. You can never have too many shows about record deer antlers. I wish my cable company would replace them with a shopping channel.

  • Eric Seif

    it is outrageous and frustrating that credits of main singers and conductor etc go by so fast that it is impossible to read them.

  • maria Lacey

    What a glorious performance! I am proud to have become a 13 Station Partner. I liked the modern set and costumes. Somehow by eliminating the usual pomp & circumstance one coul better appreciate the incredible nuanced phrasing and the delicacy of the voices, especially of Dessay and Flores

  • richard udell

    question 1: on what date was the performance of the opera recorded. question 2: at many times the performer’s lips and the singing seemed noticeably out of synch. How come?

  • Maria Montgomery

    Thank you PBS. One more wonderful reason for support of public television. For the most part, I agree with the 15 comments above, but would like to confirm some and add a bit of my own as follows: 1. It is a terrific idea to broadcast magnificent performances of opera ~ and frequently; 2. Yes, indeed, it would be wonderful to see the list of all performers, and to see it fly by less rapidly; and 3. The trend to modernize settings for old operas is intriguing and sometimes interesting, but in this case, it may have been a tad overdone and not always in good taste. Still, for me, it did not take away from the gorgeous music and singing. I am truly grateful for Channel Thirteen’s programming of great performances at the MET. All the best! mkm

  • Alex Lopov

    I am delighted that WNET does opera of any type and I know that WNET does not choose which operas were selected for broadcast by the Metropolitan Opera but why are we tortured with a turkey such as La Sonnambula? The singing was excellent and all that but what a horror! Such ghastly music! It is only an excuse for singers to show off what they can do in the bel canto repertoire. Why can’t there be operas with meat? I know, there was Salome, which was extremely worthwhile, but do we have to be punished for enjoying that with this poor, miserable thing? I watched a bit because we know one of the secondary singers but I normally charge time and a half for listening to something like this. I know better than to ask for Wozzeck, as much as I would like to, but perhaps a Rosenkavalier or a Don Giovanni, something with substance?

  • Sandee Barrowclough

    Why can’t I find a cast list? Who’s conducting? Who’s singing Lisa? Alessio? Frustrating beyond words!

  • RK

    when will the DVD be released?

  • VC

    This opera was recorded back in March of this year. I watched it on Saturday July 18th on Thirteen and I was riveted to my television, even with it’s defective picture.

  • gary kalbach

    when will the DVD be releast

  • W.Zeutzius

    Juan and Natalie—terrific!!! Loved it!
    Brought tears to my eyes. Fond memories of going to the matinees standing room only—when it cost two dollars. I would have liked to have seen the forest and the brook instead of what looked like the windows of Grand Central Station! And yes credits were rediculously fast. Still I’ll put up with all of that just to have opera in my living room.

  • gary kalbach

    when will the DVD be released

  • Carol Hertel

    What a treat to hear these beautiful voices and to see the acting. I agree with the above staging comments but whatever it takes to get opera on PBS. Thank you-Carol Hertel

  • Dan Bucc

    I want to know the same thing as gary kalbach, WIll this be released on DVD? I certainly hope so.. I didn’t get to see it on PBS and will be devastated if I can’t see it, will it be aired again even?

  • Anibal Salazar

    Juan Diego is excellent Natlie Dessay is not too good the production is horrible Miss Mary Zimmerman has to learn and respect the opera and composers, she destroy the most beautiful moments of this Bellini work and convert the set in a dumpster, she said that the plot is silly, but she created the confuse “Idiotambula” for Ms. Dessay, who identified whit this character designed entirely for her personality.

  • dean jones cricketer

    What I wouldnt give to have a debate with you about this. You just say so many things that arrive from nowhere that Im fairly positive Id have a fair shot. Your weblog is great visually, I mean people wont be bored. But others who can see past the videos and the layout wont be so impressed together with your generic understanding of this subject.

  • marie

    hi just saw la sonnambula two years ago and now it is not playing on pbs but I have some good news they will be coming back together again to do a better new PROCTUCTION it is called I puritan but it is going to be a good proctucution because I saw it with juan diego florez with nino machaidze.

  • marie

    please do not tourcher the metropolitan opera is not there fault is that stupid mary zurmmermann has been tourching my beloved tenor and that is why he is very good that why bought the dvds of his that is why I am going to some more of his when he is going to get some more dvds

  • marie

    do not say that to my natalie dessay how ever you are o.k. I am a try fan of natalie dessay and if you do not say any thing nice to miss dessay I do not hear it.

Produced by THIRTEEN    ©2014 Educational Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.