Lucia di Lammermoor Makes a Triumphant Return to the Teatro Real

28/06/2018

Donizetti, Lucia di Lammermoor: Teatro Real Chorus and Orchestra / Daniel Oren (conductor), Teatro Real, Madrid, 25 & 26.6.2018. (JMI)

Teatro Real’s Lucia di Lammermoor © J. del Real

Cast:

Lucia – Lisette Oropesa/Venera Gimadieva
Edgardo – Javier Camarena/Ismael Jordi
Enrico – Artur Rucinski/Simone Piazzola
Raimondo – Roberto Tagliavini/Marco Mimica
Arturo – Yijie Shi
Alisa – Marina Pinchuk
Normanno – Alejandro del Cerro

Production:

Direction – David Alden
Sets – Charles Edwards
Costumes – Brigitte Reiffenstuel
Lighting – Adam Silverman

Lucia di Lammermoor has been missing from the Teatro Real schedule since November 2001, a long absence for such a popular title. One had the impression at these performances that the public was keen to see this Donizetti masterpiece again – their reaction was much more enthusiastic than what might have been expected.

This is the David Alden production that premiered at the London Coliseum in February 2010: it has subsequently been seen in a number of other cities, from Göteborg and Toronto to Washington and Oslo. The action has been moved from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth, the time of the opera’s composition, and it all takes place indoors on a fairly dark stage. It does not open with Normanno and the servants in search of Edgardo, but rather at the Ashtons’ mansion where Enrico and Lucia are playing with dolls and toys like two childish adults. The arrival of Arturo clearly shows that this is a marriage of convenience since the Ashtons are quite inclined to satisfy the new husband and his people. The mad scene develops with Arturo’s corpse in the background, which Lucia approaches at the end; I am afraid someone threw too much red paint about since you cannot imagine that much blood coming from one body. Finally, the Ravenswood Cemetery scene could be anywhere, and the opera ends with Lucia’s corpse seated on a chair and (surprise, surprise) it remains perfectly upright.

The costumes are all in dark colours, and the lighting is effective. The direction of the actors and the crowds is outstanding, and Alden proves that he is a true master of theatre.

Conductor Daniel Oren seemed more restrained on the podium than on other occasions, but there was still intensity in his conducting and a good control of the stage. The version offered here was complete, and even included the interventions of Enrico, Normanno and Raimondo that close the mad scene, a true anticlimax. There were excellent performances from both orchestra and chorus.

The interpreter of Lucia in the first cast, soprano Lisette Oropesa, met with great success but, for my taste, the audience’s reaction was somewhat excessive. She is an excellent singer with an attractive, well-handled voice, and a superb actress capable of conveying emotion. Overall, she was outstanding as Lucia, but this character needs more than what a light soprano can offer. That was fashionable in the second half of the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century – until the arrival of María Callas, who showed that Lucia requires a more dramatic soprano. Since then we have had exceptional interpreters, among them Joan Sutherland, June Anderson and Diana Damrau; the latter was the indisputable Lucia until she abandoned the character. But Lisette Oropesa is a much lighter soprano, remarkable and even outstanding, but still a light soprano.

In the ‘mad scene’, where Lucia twice refers to the ghost, she has to show that her voice has power down below, and that is not the case with Oropesa. In addition, her very top notes are too metallic and reduced in size. In short, I thought she was excellent but not spectacular enough – in my opinion – to warrant the standing ovation the audience gave her.

The second cast featured Venera Gimadieva, who has appeared at the Teatro Real on previous occasions. She did well but wasn’t extraordinary – she too is a light or light-lyric soprano – and her performance did not match that of Lisette Oropesa, especially in terms of transmitting emotion to the public.

Javier Camarena was magnificent as Edgardo, singing with gusto and brilliance from start to finish. For my taste he was better suited to his role than his co-star was, although the public did not reward him in the same way. His final scene was outstanding, and he even dared to add a high D in his final aria. A great Edgardo!

The best singing in the second cast came from Ismael Jordi. He gave an outstanding performance, singing with great taste and expressiveness.

Artur Rucinski did nicely in the part of Enrico, with a well-suited voice and good interpretive skills, but Simone Piazzola’s performance was disappointing. His voice did not run easily, and his Enrico was no more than routine.

Bass Roberto Tagliavini was a satisfying Raimondo, as was Marco Mimica in the second cast. Yijie Shi was a real luxury in the part of Arturo: his voice is strong and appealing. Marina Pinchuk was correct as Alisa, as was Alejandro del Cerro in the role of Normanno.

José M. Irurzun

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