Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

West Wind: A new song-cycle by Sally Beamish

In a recent article in BBC Music Magazine tenor James Gilchrist reflected on the reason why early-nineteenth-century England produced no corpus of art song to match the German lieder of Schumann, Schubert and others, despite the great flowering of English Romantic poetry during this period.

Florencia en el Amazonas, NYCO

With the New York Premiere of Florencia en el Amazonas, the New York City Opera Steps Out of the Shadows of the Past

Idomeneo, re di Creta, Garsington

Opportunities to see Idomeneo are not so frequent as they might be, certainly not so frequent as they should be.

Don Carlo in San Francisco

Not merely Don Carlo, but the five-act Don Carlo in the 1886 Modena version! The welcomed esotericism of San Francisco Opera’s extraordinary spring season.

Jenůfa in San Francisco

The early summer San Francisco Opera season has the feel of a classy festival. There is an introduction of Spanish director Calixto Bieito to American audiences, a five-act Don Carlo and two awaited, inevitable role debuts, Karita Mattila as Kostelnička and Malin Bystrom as Janacek's Jenůfa.

Musings on the “American Ring

Now that the curtain has long fallen on the third and last performance of the Ring cycle at the Washington National Opera (WNO), it is safe to say that the long-anticipated production has been an unqualified success for the company, director Francesca Zambello, and conductor Philippe Auguin.

Nabucco, Covent Garden

Most of the attention during this revival of Daniele Abbado’s 2013 production of Nabucco has been directed at Plácido Domingo’s reprise of the title role, with the critical reception somewhat mixed.

The Cunning Little Vixen, Glyndebourne

Four years ago, almost to the day (13th to 12th), I saw Melly Still’s production of The Cunning Little Vixen during its first Glyndebourne run. I found myself surprised how much more warmly I responded to it this time.

London: A 90th birthday tribute to Horovitz

This recital celebrated both the work of the Park Lane Group, which has been supporting the careers of outstanding young artists for 60 years, and the 90th birthday of Joseph Horovitz, who was born in Vienna in 1926 and emigrated to England aged 12.

Opera Las Vegas: A Blazing Carmen in the Desert

Headed by General Director Luana DeVol, a world-renowned dramatic soprano, Opera Las Vegas is a relatively new company that presents opera with first-rate casts at the University of Las Vegas’s Judy Bayley Theater. In 2014 they presented Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and in 2015, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. This year they offered a blazing rendition of Georges Bizet’s Carmen.

La bohème, Opera Holland Park

Ever since a friend was reported as having said he would like something in return for modern-dress Shakespeare (how quaint that term seems now, as if anyone would bat an eyelid!), namely an Elizabethan-dress staging of Look Back in Anger, I have been curious about the possibilities of ‘down-dating’, as I suppose we might call it. Rarely, if ever, do we see it, though.

Holland Festival: Alban Berg’s Wozzeck, Amsterdam

Leading a very muscular Dutch Radio Philharmonic, Principal Conductor Markus Stenz brilliantly delivered Alban Berg’s Wozzeck with a superb Florian Boesch in the lead and a mesmerising Asmik Grigorian as Marie his wife.

Pietro Mascagni: Iris

There can’t be that many operas that start with an extended solo for double bass. At Holland Park, the eerie, angular melody for lone bass player which opens Pietro Mascagni’s Iris immediately unsettled the relaxed mood of the summer evening.

L’italiana in Algeri, Garsington Opera

George Souglides’ set for Will Tuckett’s new production of Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri at Garsington would surely have delighted Liberace.

Carmen in San Francisco

Calixto Bieito is always news, Carmen with a good cast is always news. So here is the news.

Eugene Onegin, Garsington Opera

Distinguished theatre director Michael Boyd’s first operatic outing was his brilliant re-invention of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo for the Royal Opera at the Roundhouse in 2015, so what he did next was always going to rouse interest.

Bohuslav Martinů’s Ariane and Alexandre bis

Although Bohuslav Martinů’s short operas Ariane and Alexandre bis date from 1958 and 1937 respectively, there was a distinct tint of 1920s Parisian surrealism about director Rodula Gaitanou’s double bill, as presented by the postgraduate students of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Lohengrin, Dresden

The eyes of the opera world turned recently to Dresden—the city where Wagner premiered his Rienzi, Fliegende Holländer, and Tannhäuser—for an important performance of Lohengrin. For once in Germany it was not about the staging.

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Glyndebourne

Having been privileged already to see in little over two months two great productions of Die Meistersinger, one in Paris (Stefan Herheim) and one in Munich (David Bösch), I was unable to resist the prospect of a third staging, at Glyndebourne.

The Threepenny Opera, London

‘Mack does bad things.’ The tabloid headline that convinces Rory Kinnear’s surly, sharp-suited Macheath that it might be time to take a short holiday epitomizes the cold, understated menace of Rufus Norris’s production of Simon Stephens’ new adaptation of The Threepenny Opera at the Olivier Theatre.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Albina Shagimuratova as Lucia in Mad Scene [Photo by Robert Millard]
19 Mar 2014

Lucia in LA: A Performance to Remember

On March 15, 2014, Los Angeles Opera presented Elkhanah Pulitzer’s production of the opera, which she set in 1885 when women were beginning to be recognized as persons separate from their fathers, brothers and husbands. At that time many European countries were beginning to allow women to own property, obtain higher education, and choose their husbands.

Lucia in LA: A Performance to Remember

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Albina Shagimuratova as Lucia in Mad Scene

Photos by Robert Millard

 

In 1835 Gaetano Donizetti composed his drama tragico Lucia di Lammermoor to a libretto by Salvadore Cammarano. He based upon Sir Walter Scott's 1819 historical novel The Bride of Lammermoor. Scott based his plot on a seventeenth century incident that took place between Janet Dalrymple and her lover, Archibald, the third Lord Rutherfurd. The Dalrymple family, who lived in in the Lammermuir Hills of south-east Scotland, objected to the match because Rutherfurd was poor and supported King Charles II. The Dalrymples, who were staunch Whigs, preferred a constitutional monarchy to absolute rule.

An impassive Janet married her family’s choice, Sir David Dunbar of Baldoon Castle, on August 24, 1669. Not long after the couple retired, screaming was heard from their room. When the family forced the door open, they found David bleeding from stab wounds. Janet was trying to hide in a corner and she had blood on her nightgown. We only know that she appeared to be insane and died two weeks later. Scott had once been in love with a lady who jilted him for a richer man, so his novel may have reflected a personal emotional response.

On March 15, 2014, Los Angeles Opera presented Elkhanah Pulitzer’s production of the opera, which she set in 1885 when women were beginning to be recognized as persons separate from their fathers, brothers and husbands. At that time many European countries were beginning to allow women to own property, obtain higher education, and choose their husbands. An 1882 Swedish law granted women the right to choose their own marriage partners. Women in Scotland could have known what rights might soon be theirs.

LdLed's enter2123.pngEdgardo, Saimir Pirgu, finds that Lucia, Albina Shagimuratova, is marrying Arturo, Vladimir Dmitruk

Carolina Angulo’s scenery for Pulitzer’s production was totally unembellished except for a few neon strips, and it became a background for Duane Schuler’s lighting and Wendall K. Harrington’s fascinating projections that realized much of what was being sung in the libretto. Christine Crook’s stylized costumes were equally lacking in detail, but they served to set the time of the action in the past.

Soprano Albina Shagimuratova portrayed a troubled Lucia who had hallucinations from the beginning. An accomplished virtuoso, she created a real character and sang the coloratura trills and cadenzas of the Mad Scene with freshness and verve. Commanding the stage as her passionate lover Edgardo, tenor Saimir Pirgu sang with great beauty of tone and a variety of sound colors. He was already a fine tenor when he first came to LA to sing Rinuccio in the company’s 2008 Gianni Schicchi, but he has since become one of the world’s most important interpreters of lyric tenor roles. Even with the inclusion of an extra scene in this production, he sounded as fresh at the end of the opera as he did when it began.

Baritone Stephen Powell who impressed the San Diego audience in Pagliacci, was thoroughly confrontational as Lucia’s bully of a brother, Enrico. His evenly focused stentorian tones let you know that he would have his way, no matter what the consequences. As the Calvinist preacher, Raimondo, James Cresswell was the sanest of the principal characters, but his version of religion was no help to the heroine. Vocally, his range was even from top to bottom as he sang Donizetti’s difficult music.

I hope this cast will record the opera. This sextet, in particular, with six equally strong wonderful voices, deserves to have a wider hearing. Vladimir Dmitruk, the Arturo, will probably make a good career in the future and D’Ana Lombard, the Alisa, may go on to more important roles. Joshua Guerrero, who had already been spotted as a new talent when he sang in last year’s Evening of Zarzuela and Latin American Music, was a committed Normanno.

LdLPOW SHAG 2083.pngEnrico, Stephen Powell, and Lucia, Albina Shagimuratova

This was a complete rendition of the opera that opened up the usual cuts. The inclusion of the Wolf’s Crag Scene brought some music to the stage that many operagoers might never have heard sung live before. It also added to the audience’s knowledge of Edgardo’s character. Although the movements of members of Grant Gershon’s chorus were stylized, they added greatly to dramatic tension of each of the scenes in which they appeared with their strong, well-harmonized singing.

James Conlon brought us not only the complete Lucia, he performed it for us the way Donizetti originally conceived it. That included Thomas Bloch’s exquisite playing of the glass harmonica as the accompaniment to Lucia’s madness. The instrument is composed of numerous blown crystal glass bowls fitted into one another but not touching. They are held in place by a horizontal rod. The diameter of each bowl determines its note and a pedal controls the rotation of all so that the player can rub their edges with wet fingers as the bowls turn.

Maestro Conlon gave his audience dramatic climaxes as well as long lyrical lines while supporting the singers by keeping the decibel level low enough for them to be heard with ease. This was an extraordinary rendition of this well known opera that many in the audience will remember for years to come.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Normanno, Joshua Guerrero; Enrico, Stephen Powell; Raimondo, James Creswell; Lucia, Albina Shagimuratova; Alisa, D’Ana Lombard; Edgardo, Saimir Pirgu; Arturo, Vladimir Dmitruk; Conductor, James Conlon; Director Elkhanah Pulitzer; Projection and Scenic Designer, Wendall K. Harrington; Scenery Designer, Carolina Angulo; Costume Designer, Christine Crook; Lighting Designer, Duane Schuler; Chorus Master, Grant Gershon; Movement, Kitty McNamee.

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):