Lucia Beyond Redemption

SpainSpain Donizetti, Lucia di Lammermoor: Orquesta Clásica Europea, Coro de Amigos Teatro Calderón, Denis Vlasenko (conductor), Teatro Calderón, Valladolid, 11.5.2012. (JMI)

Production: Teatro Calderón

Direction: Ignacio García
Sets: Esmeralda Díaz
Costumes: Silvia García-Bravo
Lighting: Ignacio García


Lucia: María José Moreno
Edgardo: Darío Schmunck
Enrico: Roman Burdenko
Raimondo. Federico Sacchi
Arturo: Alexandre Guerrero
Normanno: Emilio Muñoz
Alisa: María José Martos

Picture courtesy Teatro Calderón

When times are tough – as they certainly are for Spanish opera houses – it seems warranted to be a little more generous about what a company can deliver. But even in the worst of times, a certain minimum level of performance quality needs to be maintained for the venture of putting on operas to make sense. This Lucia di Lammermoor from Valladolid seemed bent on testing those boundaries and its audience’s goodwill.

On the musical side things weren’t any better. Russian conductor Denis Vlasenko’s reading was all routine and efficiency, but he ran into two insurmountable obstacles: The very poor orchestra and the, frankly, dismal Choir, both well below the minimum quality required.Teatro Calderon could have made a virtue out of necessity by putting on Lucia. Nobody will demand huge sets and lavish costumes in this piece. It’s not difficult to accept low cost productions – but some of that has to be made up with a reasonable amount of imaginativeness on the part of the stage director. And the singers, choristers, and extras should really be at least decent. By reputation, Ignacio Garcia seemed to me a right choice to meet this minimum requirement. But his work on this Lucia was one big disappointment. His is an indigent production, with practically nonexistent sets, just a backdrop and a makeshift tomb. The costumes look like something from a second hand outlet and could have been used in any generic opera. Suffice to say that Lucia wears the same robe (looking more an Adalgisa than Lucia) all night. An actual stage direction is hard to make out: The singers always stare at the audience and the chorus makes no hint of ever moving. The only dubious distinctive touches by Mr. Garcia consist of showing on stage how Lucia slaughters Arturo, while her corpse is dragged back on stage like a wet sack; a mute witness of Edgardo’s suicide. All that falls far short of what I had always considered Ignacio García’s potential as a director.

Lucia was sung by Maria Jose Moreno and her performance was the only good thing of the evening. I fondly remember her interpretations of this character some 10 years ago. She is still an excellent soprano today, and she knows exactly how to cope with the demands of this belcanto score. She was at her very best in the mad scene, a lonely beacon of class and expressiveness. She would have truly saved the show, if the show hadn’t been beyond saving. Dario Schmunck was a very old-style Edgardo who offered nothing of even the slightest interest on stage. The voice is pleasant enough but very limited in size and his lack of expression is more (or less?) than I can handle. Russian barítone Roman Burdenko was a rough Enrico, but at least he had enough vocal volume. His timbre and voice projection remind me of his compatriot Sergej Leiferkus. The Italian bass Federico Sacchi was a pitiful Raimondo whereas Alexandre Guerrero’s Arturo could be excused on account of him being very immature singer.

José Mª Irurzun