Oviedo’s Most Atrocious Lucia

SpainSpain G. Donizetti, Lucia di Lammermoor: Soloists, Soloists, Oviedo Filarmonía, Oviedo’s Opera Chorus, Marzio Conti (conductor), Teatro Campoamor, Oviedo, 20.10.2012 (JMI)

Production Opera Oviedo

Direction. Emilio Sagi
Sets: Enrique Bordolini
Costumes: Imme Möller
Lighting: Eduardo Bravo


Lucia: Mariola Cantarero
Edgardo: Arturo Chacón-Cruz
Enrico: Dalibor Jenis
Raimondo: Simón Orfila
Arturo: Charles Dos Santos
Alisa: María José Suárez
Normando: Josep Fadó.

Picture courtesy Opera Oviedo, © carlospictures

Lucia di Lammermoor is one of the most thankful operas of the entire repertoire. I can hardly remember attending a performance of this opera where the audience wasn’t enthusiastic afterwards. The same goes for this performance in Oviedo. Unfortunately, for this writer they apparently attended a different performance. From my seats and to my ears, the affair was wholly disappointing.

Emilio Sagi’s production has been around for a while, and has been little revised since its last revivals in 2001 and 2007. The minimalist sets consist of a space enclosed by fake metallic walls, enriched by a few props. The sparseness and enclosure—all the way up to the ceiling—has the advantage of helping the projection of the voices. The darkness of the costumes suits the darkness of the stage. That makes the lighting more important, an aspect of this production that is excellent. The stage direction is conventional, and the chorus static. It is an efficient production that doesn’t leave a lasting memory.

This would have been inoffensive enough, but unfortunately this Lucia enjoyed one of the worst musical executions I’ve heard in my decades-long experience. The conducting by Italian Marzio Conti was just very poor. He is the Oviedo Filarmonía’s new music director, so his presence wasn’t entirely surprising, but the reading was tedious and lifeless. The tempi were very slow in general and the sound of his orchestra was unacceptably bad. Even the somewhat better chorus made an impression that harked back to opera at its dimmest state in Oviedo.

Mariola Cantarero scored a big success with the audience as Lucia. What I heard was a singer in a worrying state, with clear signs of vocal fatigue, far too early for singer of her age (34). Her technique is impeccable, although she seems to have more difficulty in her soft notes than she used to. Her biggest problem are those remarkably instable high notes. Even eight years ago, when I first heard her as Lucia, her top notes were uncontrolled. Now they are mere screams. I would suggest she leave the character entirely and focus on other roles more appropriate to her voice. But given the public response, even if it’s just at a house like Oviedo, she won’t likely be paying any attention to me, and perhaps rightly so.

Mexican tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz was also a disappointing Edgardo, a view also not shared by the audience. This singer has two perfectly different voices. Up to the passagio, the timbre is unattractive and dull, gaining in brightness and squillo as he goes further up. But he cannot got too high, and avoided the high C of the famous sextet; wisely, presumably. His mezza voce singing is inexistent.

Dalibor Jenis performed Enrico already in 2007. I found him a decent interpreter then, and not particularly interesting. That impression hasn’t changed. The voice has gained in weight, it’s well handled, but he lacks elegance. Portraying a villain on stage does not mean that elegant singing is not welcome.

Surely the best singer in the cast was Simon Orfila in the role of Raimondo. His voice is not very attractive, but well intentioned and he sang fluidly and with proper intonation. Arturo was performed by Charles Dos Santos, who showed a fine presence on stage with a nice voice in the middle—but badly projected in the high register.

José Mª Irurzun