BLOODY SATURDAY

Lucia di Lammermoor

Lucia di Lammermoor, opera by Gaetano Donizetti on a libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, based on the novel The bride of Lammermoor by Walter Scott. First performed on 26 September 1835 in the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. Performance in the Metropolitan Opera New York on 14 April 2018.

Lucia: Jessica Pratt
Edgardo: Vittorio Grigolo
Enrico: Massimo Cavalletti
Raimondo: Vitalij Kowaljow
Arturo: Mario Chang
Alisa: Deborah Nansteel
Normanno: Gregory Schmidt

Metropolitan Opera Chorus & Orchestra
Conductor: Roberto Abbado
Staging: Mary Zimmerman

Music:
Staging:

Jessica Pratt

Jessica Pratt (Foto: Benjamin Ealovega)

Vittorio Grigolo

Vittorio Grigolo (Foto: Jason Bell)

Massimo Cavalletti

Massimo Cavalletti (Foto: Dario Acosta)

A lot of dead bodies for me on that Saturday, 14th of April 2018 at the MET. After an exciting afternoon matinee of Luisa Miller with three dead at the end, I went to see Lucia di Lammermoor in the evening performance, for another three dead. The house was packed to the last seat – just like in the afternoon.

This production transferred the story from the late 16th century to the mid-19th century – for which reason? We will probably never know. However, at least the staging by Mary Zimmerman looked refreshingly traditional. The garden, the castle, and the graveyard at the end look beautiful and created a frightening atmosphere throughout the evening. What I missed most in this production was … music. They had made many cuts and left out wide parts of duets. This was very distracting, when I waited for expected notes and lines – and they simply did not come. This left me with a very mixed feeling after an otherwise nice opera evening.

Frightening – that was the beginning of the opera, unfortunately also vocally. Jessica Pratt was Lucia, and her very first aria left me scared. It sounded insecure and wobbly in the higher register, and I was already afraid what to expect in the mad scene. But it turned out that this was apparently just a bad moment. For the rest of the evening she gave a great performance. Her madness scene was some very elegantly phrased coloratura singing. Maybe the very low passages could have been a whiff louder, since it was difficult to hear them up in the Family Circle of the MET. I very much enjoyed the “duet” with the glass harmonica. This is such a wonderful piece of music, and here are kudos for the player of that rare instrument, Friedrich Heinrich Kern who delicately enriched the evening by his playing.

Her lover Edgardo was Vittorio Grigolo – and he showed just the opposite style of singing. He is a master of passionately exaggerating, and apparently, his love for overacting distracts him from concentrating on the pitch; some notes he sang were definitely not written by Donizetti. Quite often, I find his tremolo bothersome, but on this Saturday, he had it under better control than I heard in previous performances. In this dramatic role of Edgardo his oh-my-so-much passion was not too disturbing, either. His “Tombe degli avi miei“  was very well sung, even impressive, and so was his final aria “Tu che a Dio spiegasti l’ali”.

Enrico, Lucia’s brother, was sung by baritone Massimo Cavalletti, had some weak moments during the first act. From then on, he became more stable, but his overall performance was not overwhelming. The high notes seemed to bother him, he lost his power there, and the sound became too thin. Also, his voice colour was a bit too light for my taste. Actingwise, he did a good job as brutal and malicious brother.

Formidable was Vitalij Kowaljow as Raimondo. His dark bass voice is rich, and huge, and filled the big house easily. It is secure in all registers and he is a fine actor, too. He was very present on stage, even when he did not have to sing. There is some charisma around him that makes him interesting.
Mario Chang sang the role of Arturo not bad at all. He did what he could to give this minor role some weight. As Alisa, Lucia’s maid, Deborah Nansteel was doing quite a good job in another minor role.
Maybe tenor Gregory Schmidt who sang Normanno has a nice voice. Alas, I could not hear it at all up in the Family Circle. Usually, the acoustics in the Family Circle is great, many people say it is even much better than in the orchestra rows. However, tiny voices fail to make it up to the roof, and Schmidt’s voice was obviously not big enough to make it.

Roberto Abbado conducted the MET orchestra very briskly, with a lot of “drive”, and energetic appeal. Besides, he could convey the dark atmosphere and the drama of the whole plot, whilst also delivering the sweetness of the melodies.

All in all, it was a nice evening, not too exciting, but also not too disappointing.

Gabi Eder (Published on 17/4/2018)

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