The role of the fragile title heroine who teeters between love and madness is shared by sopranos Olga Peretyatko-Mariotti and Pretty Yende, who have each impressed audiences with dazzling bel canto portrayals at the Met. Vittorio Grigolo and Michael Fabiano share the role of her lover in this chilling production by Tony Award-winning director Mary Zimmerman. Roberto Abbado conducts.
Premiere: Teatro San Carlo, Naples, 1835. The character of Lucia has become an icon in opera and beyond, an archetype of the constrained woman asserting herself in society. She reappears as a touchstone for such diverse later characters as Flaubert’s adulterous Madame Bovary and the repressed Englishmen in the novels of E. M. Forster. The insanity that overtakes and destroys Lucia, depicted in opera’s most celebrated mad scene, has especially captured the public imagination. Donizetti’s handling of this fragile woman’s state of mind remains seductively beautiful, thoroughly compelling, and deeply disturbing.
Gaetano Donizetti (1797–1848) composed about 75 operas plus orchestral and chamber music in a career abbreviated by mental illness and premature death. Most of his works, with the exceptions of the ever-popular Lucia and the comic gems L’Elisir d’Amore and Don Pasquale, disappeared from the public eye after his death, but critical and popular opinion of the rest of his huge opus has grown considerably over the past 50 years. Librettist Salvadore Cammarano (1801–1852) also provided libretti for Verdi (Luisa Miller and Il Trovatore). The source for this opera was The Bride of Lammermoor, a novel by Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832).
Production – Mary Zimmerman
Lighting Designer – T.J Gerckens
Set Designer – Daniel Ostling
Choreographer – Daniel Pelzig
Costume Designer – Mara Blumenfeld
The tale is set in Scotland, which, to artists of the Romantic era, signified a wild landscape on the fringe of Europe, with a culture burdened by a French-derived code of chivalry and an ancient tribal system. Civil war and tribal strife are recurring features of Scottish history, creating a background of fragmentation reflected in both Lucia’s family situation and her own fragile psyche. The design of the Met’s production by Mary Zimmerman suggests a 19th-century setting, and some of its visual elements are inspired by actual places in Scotland.
CONDUCTOR – Roberto Abbado
Lucia – Olga Peretyatko-Mariotti
Lucia – Jessica Pratt
Lucia – Pretty Yende
Edgardo – Vittorio Grigolo
Edgardo – Michael Fabiano
Enrico – Massimo Cavalletti
Enrico – Luca Salsi
Enrico – Quinn Kelsey
Raimondo – Vitalij Kowaljow
Raimondo – Alexander Vinogradov
Donizetti’s operas and those of his Italian contemporaries came to be classified under the heading of bel canto (“beautiful singing”), a genre that focused on vocal agility and lyrical beauty to express drama. Today, the great challenge in performing this music lies in finding the right balance between elegant but athletic vocalism and dramatic insight. Individual moments from the score that can be charming on their own take on increased dramatic force when heard within the context of the piece, perhaps most apparent in the soprano’s extended Mad Scene in Act III.