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Lucia di Lammermoor

From the aisle
November 8, 2013

The Anchorage Opera
presents

Gaetano Donizetti’s

Lucia di Lammermoor

Reviewed by Robert Pond

Librettist Salvadore Cammarano adapted the melodramatic and tragic opera, Lucia di Lammermoor from Sir Walter Scott’s gothic novel, The Bride of Lammermoor.  With this opera, composer Gaetano Donizetti reached his crest as the early 19th century’s favorite opera composer.   Lucia di Lammermoor has it all; the dark opera has the wars, the tragic love, the mythology, and the intrigues of 17th century Scotland.  And it is a beautiful melodic opera.  It is bedrock for the Bel canto (beautiful singing) school of singing.  Lyric and coloratura sopranos are prone to boast, by way of operas like Lucia di Lammermoor and those of Bellini, that they are the last of the bel canto singers.  Maria Callas, Anna Maffo as well as Lily Pons and Joan Sutherland claimed ownership of Lucia and the bel canto approach to voice. The opera has been in and out of favor during the years and for sometime, Lucia di Lammermoor was thought to be just a display vehicle for coloratura sopranos as witnessed by Lily Pons in the movies.

 

While the Anchorage Opera successfully updates the opera, the story remains the same.   The melodrama finds that Lucia Ashton’s family of Lammermoor are involved in a feud with the Ravenswoods family.  Brother Enrico Ashton had gained the upper hand but at the opera’s opening, his influence is waning and is threatened by the Ravenswood family.   Enrico hopes to save his situation by uniting Lucia with the influential Lord Arturo Bucklaw.   Alas, the fragile Lucia is in love with Edgardo di Ravenswood, from the other feuding family.  Brother Enrico means to force this marriage.  Not quite the same as Romeo and Juliet, but it is close enough for the inevitable.

Anchorage Opera has begun their current season with a crowd pleaser.  Lucia di Lammermoor has endured as one of the more popular of the 19th century operas.  It’s very tuneful and you want to hum it on the way home.  Tonight’s production delighted us with great music and some good voices.   There was not a lot of attention given to acting.  The direction showed the stereotypical point and sing poses.  The choreography had the principals mostly strutting and drifting on stage.  The chorus gave some real contributions to the performance but was too often an audience on stage.

Lyric soprano Amanda Hall has a lovely voice and she performs the role of Lucia well.  Her moment comes in the signature act three mad scene when the troubled Lucia just loses it all.  Vocally difficult, Lucia shares the scene with a flute as punctuation to her madness.   Good music permeates the opera; for some, the Act II sextet is a favorite selection from Lucia.  It was certainly one of the more enjoyable scenes of tonight’s performance.

There were moments in the opera that were quite rewarding.  Spinto tenor Scott Ramsay as Edgardo gave us one of the better acting performances of the production.   Jonathan Beyer, with his great baritone voice, performs Lucia’s insensitive brother, Enrico.  Beyer’s likability, however, bleeds through his role as the bad guy.  You’ll especially enjoy Martin Eldred as Raimondo and scene-stealer Resty Yongco as Normanno.  The tenor that Lucia didn’t like, Arturo, is excellently performed by Kirk Dougherty’s strong and well-placed voice.

The setting by Yoshinori Tanokura was as interesting as it was creative.   Anchorage Opera’s Lucia di Lammermoor is a no fail opera with some very impressive talents that you will find entertaining.  Its run will end all too soon on the 10th, Sunday afternoon.

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