Gaetano Donizetti, Lucia di Lammermoor (1835)
Based on: The Bride of Lammermoor, a novel by Sir Walter Scott
Notable Cultural References: Anna Karenina, The Fifth Element
Setting: Scotland, late 17th century*
Plot in 101 words or less: Lucia loves Edgardo but brother Enrico is a whiny man-child who needs Lucia to marry Arturo to save his ass. Edgardo is off to France but the couple swears eternal love and promises to write. That should go well. Enrico arranges Lucia’s marriage to Arturo anyway, producing a devastating letter “from Edgardo” to promote his cause. Lucia eventually consents to this folly, but, speaking of folly, she goes mad and kills Arturo on their wedding night. Harsh. Edgardo arrives just in time to do nothing but rage against the machine. He then stabs himself. As you do. Ghosts and curses abound.
Sung in: Italian
Memorable Music: “Il dolce suono” (aka the Mad Scene)
Lucia di Lammermoor is one of my favorite bel canto operas so it was a real treat to see this one on my birthday. Unfortunately, the long-awaited return of Diane Damrau to the San Francisco Opera stage was not to be and Lucia was played by Nadine Sierra (last seen as Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro), who nevertheless acquitted herself quite well. However, the real star was the excellent Piotr Beczała as Edgardo. He sounded incredible with Brian Mulligan (last seen as the lead in Sweeney Todd) in “Orrida è questa notte” (aka the Wolf’s Crag Scene). Nicolas Teste made a fine debut as Raimondo, the chaplain/tutor who convinces Lucia to marry Arturo for the good of the family.
*Unfortunately, my second viewing of this opera was again reset to a nebulous twentieth century. Stop doing this, people! It’s not that I didn’t like Mattie Ullrich’s costumes and Erhard Rom’s sets, but they didn’t really go together or with this story. I want foggy moors and castles, no more of this modern crap. And no, you can’t placate me with your video projections or distract me with buckets (upon buckets) of blood.
Oh, God, Mother! Blood! Blood!
All in all, this was another opera that I’ll remember for its singing, not its production values. Obviously that is better than the other way around, but for once I would love to come out raving about the entirety of a production.