Monday, March 20, 2006

Lucia Di Lammermoor

Gaetano Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor" is a text book opera if there ever was one. The juicy libretto is full of drama, pathos and betraytal; just barely staying on the right side of silliness and absurdity. The music however is hauntingly lyrical with dramatic arias,rousing choruses and one of the most celebrated "mad scenes" in all of opera.

The Lyric Opera of Kansas City redeemed itself after a clunky, boring Carmen in this excellent production that concluded Sunday. Soprano Angela Turner Wilson, in the title role and who is singing her first Lucia, proved to be a Lucia of great power and ability. The rest of the cast also was a full step above the Carmen cast. Troy Cook as Enrico (Lucia's manipulative brother whose remorse for his misdeeds is too late to save Lucia)is an excellent actor and his baritone clear and powerful. He was perfect in his role and added to the overall vocal exellence. Jianyi Zhang as Lucia'’s lover Edgardo was a bright and forceful tenor and also a decent actor.

The set, the ruins of Lammermoor Castle in Scotland, were appropriately gloomy and shadowy. The opening with the fog and the single sentry creeping down the stairs with a single torch was very effective. Neither the sets or the costumes were particularly showy, but added to the sense of doom and gloom essential to the plot.

The famous mad scene was never maudlin or campy. Wilson never forced or exaggerated her expressions and movements, she truly appeared to be beside herself in agony and despair. The excellent staging and make up gave her a pitiful, ghostly appearance, or as the KC Star critic pointed out, almost "Carrie like", with her white dress and hands with stained with blood.

The orchestra, as usual, was a bit overwhelming in some spots. I chalk it up to the Lyric Theatre accoustics. The performance never drug yet was not rushed or forced.

Wilson's Lucia was a revelation. Some more seasoned patrons compared her to the great Lucia's they had experienced at the Met or La Scala. Sure in her role, bouncing from young lover to a mad, betrayed woman to cold blooded killer, she is an artist to watch.

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