"No one but Patti ought to attempt the Sonnambula"
La Sonnambula
Public DomainLa Sonnambula - Credit: William de Leftwich Dodge

La Sonnambula is a "semi-serious" opera by Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835).  It is the story of a young woman who wanders asleep into a stranger's bedroom and is consequently accused of infidelity by her fiancé.  Her innocence is only proven when she sleepwalks across a dangerous mill bridge.

The role of Amina, the sleepwalker, is famously difficult, requiring a high vocal range and complicated technique.

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Adelina Patti (1843-1919) was a famous bel canto soprano, described by Giuseppe Verdi as a "stupendous artist".  Born in Spain of Italian parents, she grew up in New York City and made her debut at the Academy of Music as Lucia di Lammermoor.