Nadine Sierra and Javier Camarena save the Liceu’s rather disappointing Lucia di Lammermoor

SpainSpain Donizetti, Lucia di Lammermoor: Chorus and Orchestra of Gran Teatre del Liceu / Giacomo Sagripanti (conductor). Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, 19.7.2021. (JMI)

Nadine Sierra (Lucia) & Javier Camarena (Edgardo) © Toni Bofill

Direction – Barbara Wysocka
Sets – Barbara Hanicka
Costumes – Julia Kornacka
Lighting – Rainer Casper

Lucia – Nadine Sierra
Edgardo – Javier Camarena
Enrico – Alfredo Daza
Raimondo – Mirco Palazzi
Arturo – Emmanuel Faraldo
Alisa – Anna Gomá
Normanno – Moisés Marín

This popular Donizetti opera is back at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu, ​​where it was last performed in 2015. At that time, two vocal casts were programmed, while now there is only one, and there are not many performances – only six – for a title as popular as this.

The result on this night was rather mediocre on the whole, and saved only by the two main characters, Lucia and Edgardo. Both the music and the staging left something to be desired, and the same can be said about the rest of the cast.

Barbara Wysocka’s production was premiered at Munich’s Bayerische Staatsoper in January 2015. I have had the opportunity to see it on several occasions in the Bavarian capital, and I found it as unsatisfactory now as then. The action has been brought to America in the 1960s, and there is a single setting – a large room that is used for Enrico’s opening and for the fountain scene, as well as for Lucia and Edgardo’s meeting (he arrives in a large convertible that is parked in the same room). It serves again for the betrothal of Lucia and Arturo and for the mad scene, as well as for the Ravenswood tower, and it is used in the final scene as the Ravenswood cemetery. The name Ashton is seen as some large graffiti on the back wall and seems to have been done during the opening bars of the opera by Edgardo.

Period transpositions only work if the stage direction does a brilliant job, which is not the case here. For Wysocka, Lucia is not a submissive sister but a modern woman who faces Enrico as an equal in Act II – which makes it all the more incredible that she accepts being married to Arturo. The famous mad scene presents Lucia waving a pistol throughout, threatening everyone, and the truth is that one becomes fed up with the pistol in the more than 20 minutes that the scene runs. Raimondo’s entrance at the wedding party in shirt sleeves and full of blood is rather absurd, since we imagine that this is how Lucia will come out on stage. Not at all! Lucia enters without a single bloodstain on her dress. Perhaps the most absurd thing about the mad scene and those that follow is the presence of Edgardo’s large convertible on stage. The car also shows up in the Ravenswood tower scene, where it appears that Edgardo has had an accident with it.

The musical direction was in the hands of Giacomo Sagripanti, and the result was disappointing if one was expecting more from his reading. There was no emotion coming from the pit at any time, and the sound was particularly poor. The Liceu Orchestra is not going through a great time, as is well known, but this performance left so much to be desired. The Liceu chorus was correct, with all the members singing with masks.

American soprano Nadine Sierra was making her debut at the Liceu, and she enjoyed an indisputable triumph in the character of Lucia de Lammermoor. She is a light-lyric soprano, with an attractive, very well-handled voice and outstanding acting skills. While admitting that her performance was brilliant throughout, I do have some doubts about her vocal suitability for the part of Lucia. I prefer a full lyric soprano in the role, and Nadine Sierra doesn’t go as far as that at the moment. To cite some Lucias from recent years, I will say that sopranos like June Anderson or, more recently, Diana Damrau were more interesting to me vocally. Sierra’s brightest moment was without a doubt the mad scene, crowned with a stupendous high note that deserved a great ovation.

Javier Camarena returned to Barcelona after his triumph in I puritani three years ago. He has left behind his recent vocal problems, and it must be said that his presence is much welcomed at the moment. His Edgardo was superb and well sung, although perhaps not at the extraordinary level we expect from him. He was at his best in the last scene.

Alfredo Daza gave life to the evil Enrico, but he was not convincing. I found him rather monotonous with an abundance of open sounds. Raimondo was sung by Mirco Palazzi, whose voice seemed smaller than on previous occasions, especially in the upper register. There were moments when his voice had difficulty reaching the audience.

Arturo was played by Emmanuel Faraldo who was almost inaudible; isolated boos could be heard at the final bows. Anna Gomá did well in the part of Alisa, and Moisés Marín as Normanno made a good impression.

Jose M. Irurzun

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