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Lucia di Lammermoor

Review of performance

LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR (Original 1835 version). At the Metropolitan Opera in New York, October 16, 1999 (matinee). Music by Gaetano Donizetti, text by Salvatore Cammarano. With Ronald Naldi (Normanno), John Avey (Enrico Ashton), Hao Jiang Tian (Raimondo), Andrea Rost (Lucia), Andrea Trebnick (Alisa), Frank Lopardo (Edgardo), and Matthew Polenzani (Arturo). Conducted by Charles Mackerras. Production: Nicolas JoŽl. Set Designer: Ezio Frigerio. Costume Designer: Franca Squarciapino. Lighting Designer: Vinicio Cheli. Stage Director: Paul Mills.

I attended the October 16, 1999, matineť performance of Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor" at the Metropolitan Opera in New York on October 16, 1999. This performance was the last of the several performed this season in Donizetti's original keys, in a style that the composer would have recognized. The cadenzas used were from Donizetti's own period. And the opera was performed without any cuts. The traditional version that is generally performed and that has always been performed at the Metropolitan Opera before this season, has the role of Lucia transposed downwards to allow the singer to end her arias with long high notes.

Andrea Rost was quite convincing as Lucia. She looked the part and conveyed Lucia's nervous emotions quite well. Her voice, though not beautiful, was quite pleasant, with a plaintive quality appropriate to the role. I did not regret the absence of the vocal acrobatics usually encountered in a performance of "Lucia." With the keys and the cadenzas employed, it was especially apparent that Donizetti was a near contemporary of Rossini, and that the opera is a serious dramatic work, not a silly coloratura show. Frank Lopardo gave a very committed performance as Edgardo. His singing was quite impressive, although it lacked the beauty one hears, say, in the recordings of Giuseppe di Stefano. Lopardo's Edgardo was quite dashing and manly, a good dramatic and physical counterpart to Rost's Lucia. The remaining roles were well sung. John Avey, replacing an indisposed Roberto Frontali, made his Met debut as Enrico. His voice was large enough for the Met, and his performance was more than adequate, but his Enrico was not especially interesting, vocally or dramatically. Charles Mackerras conducted expertly. One of the cadenzas in Act One came as a shock to me, because it was so different from what I am used to hearing on recordings. It was probably my imagination that the orchestra seemed to find itself in unfamiliar territory at that moment. The production was on the whole quite traditional. The costumes were somewhat sumptuous, and the interiors of the Ashtons' house were in an extremely ornate and lavishly expensive style that might be found at Windsor Castle, but that seemed inappropriate to Scotland circa 1700.