Lucia di Lammermoor: Viewed and Reviewed Again

07/08/2012

Sweden. Donizetti Lucia di Lammermoor. Opera på Skäret, Kopparberg. Marcello Mottadelli (conductor). 2.8.2012 (Premiere II)(GF)

Cast:

Lucia Hanna: Husáhr
Edgardo: Javier Palacios
Enrico: Daniel Hällström
Raimondo: Levente Páll
Alisa: Ann Roach
Arturo: Anders Håkansson
Normanno: Kalle Leander
The Ghost: Maria Jonsson

Bergslagens Musikdramatiska kör, Opera på Skärets orkester 2012


Production:

Director: Sten Niclasson
Assistant director: Alexander Niclasson
Sets: Sven Östberg
Costumes and masks: Robin Karlsson
Lighting design: Kevin Wyn-Jones
Producer: Anna-Carin Niclasson
Pianist and rehearser: Stefan Lindgren

Hanna Husahr Photo © Andreas Hylthén

For a more comprehensive assessment of the production at large I refer readers to the review of Premiere I. Let me add a few further observations and modifications. The ‘far too much running about, seemingly without purpose, in the first scene’ had been toned down, or maybe premiere nerves made things go a bit wrong. I also thought that Anders Håkansson’s Arturo was less exaggerated in gestures and behaviour this time – and thus so much more credible. On the other hand the laundry-basket and the never finished handling of the white sheet during most of Lucia’s first act aria was even more out of place his second time. We have seen this kind of activity so many times and it never fills any purpose – unless the opera is Falstaff where the laundry-basket is necessary. But otherwise the production felt thoroughly homogenous, the chorus acted even more convincingly this time and the playing of the orchestra was impeccable.

As for the singers Levente Pàll confirmed the impression from Premiere I with strong, sonorous singing, fine nuances and charismatic stage presence. But of course it was the three new singers that enticed me back. Having heard – and reviewed – the young soprano Hanna Husáhr a number of times recently it was thrilling to see how she would manage the notoriously difficult title role in Lucia di Lammermoor, her greatest challenge so far. She has a natural grace in her acting, catches the attention from the audience by just being there and she was also very successful at expressing the different stages and changes of Lucia’s mental state. Compared to Yitian Luan, who sang at Premiere I, Hanna’s Lucia was frailer, more vulnerable, and this makes it easier to understand her total breakdown, her madness, even the fact that Lucia dies of the loss of her beloved. It was a very convincing portrait. Vocally she began a little hesitant, not that there were any mistakes, the voice was in perfect condition, her legato everything one could wish, but she didn’t carry out the way I had hoped. But this was just an initial weakness. She soon settled and from then on she was in absolutely full control of every aspect of her singing: the clarity of her runs, the trills and the ethereal half-voice up high. And there was no lack of power and brilliance when she let loose. In the duet with Edgardo in the first act the voices blended wonderfully and here – on her own – she delivered singing of the utmost beauty. In the sextet Hanna’s voice sailed effortlessly above the rest of the ensemble and the mad scene, this vocal Marathon, was superb with such ethereal correspondence between voice and flute. It is tempting to write ‘A star is born’, but, since I have already praised her in lyrical terms before I prefer writing ‘A star confirmed!’

Of the other two ‘new’ singers I knew Daniel Hällström already as a splendid Silvio in Pagliacci three years ago. Enrico is a tougher role and Hällström lacked the black malevolence that Anton Eriksson could muster at Premiere I and he didn’t look as demonic. On the other hand his rounded Italianate tone was much closer to what Donizetti expected from a bel canto singer, which also was pure gain in the duet with Lucia.

The Edgardo, Spanish Javier Palacios, was a splendid youthful actor and his slimmer, more flexible voice was much better suited to the role than Kristian Benedikt’s. There was a slight tendency to press too hard but by and large his was a splendid impersonation of Edgardo and the long final scene was sensitively handled with some beautiful pianissimos.

This Lucia di Lammermoor is another feather in the cap for Sten Niclasson and his team at Opera på Skäret and Hanna Husáhr is to be congratulated for her successful debut in one of the most testing soprano roles in the whole opera literature. The road seems paved for even greater things and she is already scheduled for her recording debut this autumn.

Göran Forsling

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