Lucia di Lammermoor, Donizetti, Metropolitan Opera
Contracted marriage, the lady kills her husband, goes "mad" and dies, and then her real lover kills himself at her graveside. That's the formula for Lucia that showcases the great sopranos and tenors of the day in Lucia di Lammermoor, Donizetti's most popular opera, set to screen as part of the Metropolitan Opera's HD summer encores series.
This popular opera airs Wednesday, July 18th at 6:30 p.m. at Tinseltown and Stonybrook. The great Anna Netrebko's lustrous voice and dramatic acting abilities shine as Lucia.
Below, local opera enthusiasts Christos Dimitriadas and Walter Karr offer their insights and feelings about Lucia.
Christos writes: "It is no secret that love carries a significant power over all living and breathing creatures on the planet. It is also not not a secret that love has particular powers over human beings, immense powers who decide the fate of people, countries and even the outcome of wars. Powers that can literally drive you mad. Does the Helen of Troy ring a bell for anyone? How about Napoleon’s Josephine? The most powerful man on the planet, self proclaimed Emperor, would cross immense distances in the midst of war just to spend a night with his beloved lady (wow, Josephine really knew how to work her stuff so to speak). And of course, let’s not forget in our recent American History one of the most important and virile statesman in the Presidency of our Nation, who sacrificed his notable career for the throws of passion...ok, ok maybe that was lust not love but you get the point. Once you get hit by the arrows of the cute, soft, winged, red cheeked, little feller you are in BIG trouble. Gaetano Donizetti immortalized such madness in his beloved opera "Lucia Di Lammermoor" in such a dramatic way which made the famous Romeo and Juliet look more like a soft paperback novel found in the racks of Wal-Mart, laden with lines such as “his piercing look reverberated through my entire being” or “I felt a waterfall of electricity rushing through my already fragile existence.
"'Lucia di Lammermoor' is a dramma tragico (tragic opera) in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Salvatore Cammarano wrote the Italian language libretto loosely based upon Sir Walter Scott's historical novel "The Bride of Lammermoor". Many serious critics have been very vocal and annoyed due to this discrepancy, since in their opinion historical validity is as important to opera as is the dissertation of a PhD candidate at Oxford University. I tend to not pay attention to such drudgery and I would recommend you do the same. After all, opera is musical theater the last time I checked and not the Annals of World History or the cliff notes on “The History of our World”. We will just let serious critics continue their stiff positions because after all, it takes all kinds to make this world go ‘round' (or go to pot, either one fits the bill). Donizetti wrote "Lucia di Lammermoor" in 1835, a time when several factors led to the height of his reputation as a composer of opera. Gioachino Rossini had recently retired and Vincenzo Bellini had died shortly before the premier of "Lucia" leaving Donizetti as "the sole reigning genius of Italian opera". Not only were conditions ripe for Donizetti's success as a composer, but there was also a European interest in the history and culture of Scotland. The story concerns the emotionally fragile Lucy Ashton (Lucia) who is caught in a feud between her own family and that of the Ravenswoods. The setting is the Lammermuir Hills of Scotland (Lammermoor) in the 17th century.
"As a diehard Donizetti fan I cannot imagine any of you opera lovers missing this performance. Anna Netrebko sings the title role of Donizetti’s bel canto tragedy in her Met role debut, with Piotr Beczala as her lover, Edgardo. Mariusz Kwiecien is her tyrannical brother. Mary Zimmerman’s hit production, first seen in 2007, is staged as a Victorian ghost story. Beczala and Kwiecien are absolutely brilliant (B-R-I-L-L-I-A-N-T) and as expected Netrebko delivers her bel canto abilities full force, although I will have to admit her “mad” scene was regarded by many more like a drugged scene. She does not reach the acting abilities of Joan Sutherland who literally used to hurl herself down the stairs, putting her life in danger, just to thrill the millions and millions of demanding fans around the world (we really have become spoiled to the core...if there are no elephants, lions and mad cheetahs parading on stage during a performance of Aida or if Tosca doesn’t plunge head first off the castle and into the rushing waters, we all go home as if our house is been put through foreclosure). In any event, whether you regard Donizetti as a first class composer or not, this is a masterpiece that has lasted through the ages and the MET does a remarkable job providing you with the finest in the world to entertain your otherwise tortured by a daily routine senses. Who knows, you may come to the theater to see the opera and end up leaving “madly” in love yourself...just be careful what you wish for...your cohorts may not be able to bear you bursting a mad scene bel canto vocal escapade in the theater...leave that to the professionals (not the love making of course, the singing)."