NICKNAMED The Italian Whizz, the dynamic conductor Gianluca Marciano returns to Grange Park Opera to conduct seven performances of Vincenzo Bellini’s last opera, I Puritani.

Grange Park Opera, near Alresford, champions a rare staging by Stephen Langridge of this seldom performed opera, from tonight.

The cast includes leading British soprano Claire Rutter in the role of Elvira, renowned Mexican tenor Jesus Leon as Lord Arturo Talbo, Damiano Salerno as Lord Riccardo Forth and Matthew Stiff as Elvira’s father, Lord Gualtiero Valton.

Bellini set the opera in three acts to an Italian libretto by Count Carlo Pepoli, based on Walter Scott’s novel Old Mortality. The story is set in England during the English Civil War and the Puritans are supporting Oliver Cromwell against the King. Puritan Lord Valton had destined his daughter Elvira to marry the puritan Riccardo. However, she is marrying her true love Arturo even though he is a supporter of the King.

During the celebrations, Arturo discovers a prisoner – the widow of the executed Charles I. While Arturo helps the Queen escape, Elvira is distressed by his disappearance and is convinced he has betrayed her.