Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.







Recently in Performances

René Pape, Joseph Calleja, Kristine Opolais, Boito Mefistofele, Munich

Arrigo Boito Mefistofele was broadcast livestream from the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich last night. What a spectacle !

Calixto Bieito’s The Force of Destiny

The monochrome palette of Picasso’s Guernica and the mural’s anti-war images of suffering dominate Calixto Bieito’s new production of Verdi’s The Force of Destiny for English National Opera.

Morgen und Abend — World Premiere, Royal Opera House

The world premiere of Morgen und Abend by Georg Friedrich Haas at the Royal Opera House, London — so conceptually unique and so unusual that its originality will confound many.

Company XIV Combines Classic and Chic in an Exquisite Cinderella

Company XIV’s production of Cinderella is New York City theater at its finest. With a nod to the court of Louis the XIV and the grandiosity of Lully’s opera theater, Company XIV manages to preserve elements of the French Baroque while remaining totally innovative, and never—in fact, not once for the entire two and a half hour show—falls prey to the predictable. Not one detail is left to chance in this finely manicured yet earthily raw production of Cinderella.

Monteverdi by The Sixteen at Wigmore Hall

This was a concert where immense satisfaction was derived equally from the quality of musicianship displayed and the coherence and resourcefulness of the programme presented. In 1610, Claudio Monteverdi published his Vespro della Beata Vergine for soloists, chorus, and orchestra.

Dialogues des Carmélites Revival at Dutch National Opera

If not timeless, Robert Carsen’s production of Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites is highly age-resistant.

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: Le donne curiose

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari was one of the Italian composers of the post-Puccini generation (which included Licinio Refice, Riccardo Zandonai, Umberto Giordano and Franco Leoni) who struggled to prolong the verismo tradition in the early years of the twentieth century.

Moby-Dick Surfaces in the City of Angels

On Saturday evening October 31, 2015, the Nantucket whaling ship Pequod journeyed to Los Angeles Opera and began its sixth voyage in the attempt to kill the elusive whale called Moby-Dick.

Great Scott at the Dallas Opera

Great Scott is a combination of a parody of bel canto opera and an operatic version of All About Eve. Beloved American diva Arden Scott (Joyce DiDonato), has discovered the score to a long-lost opera “Rosa Dolorosa, Figlia di Pompeii” and has become committed to getting the work revived as a vehicle for her. “Rosa Dolorosa” has grand musical moments and a hilariously absurd plot.

Schubert and Debussy at Wigmore Hall

The most recent instalment of the Wigmore Hall’s ambitious series, ‘Schubert: The Complete Songs’, was presented by soprano Lucy Crowe, pianist Malcolm Martineau and harpist Lucy Wakeford.

A Bright and Accomplished Cenerentola at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Gioachino Rossini’s La Cenerentola has returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago in a production new to this venue and one notable for several significant debuts along with roles taken by accomplished, familiar performers.

La Bohème, ENO

Back in 2000, Glyndebourne Touring Opera dragged Puccini’s sentimental tale of suffering bohemian artists into the ‘modern urban age’, when director David McVicar ditched the Parisian garrets and nineteenth-century frock coats in favour of a squalid bedsit in which Rodolfo and painter Marcello shared a line of cocaine under the grim glare of naked light bulbs and the clientele at Café Momus included a couple of gaudily attired transvestites.

Luigi Rossi: Orpheus

Just as Orpheus embarks on a quest for his beloved Eurydice, so the Royal Opera House seems to be in pursuit of the mythical music-maker himself: this year the house has presented Monteverdi’s Orfeo at the Camden Roundhouse (with the Early Opera Company in January), Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice on the main stage (September), and, in the Linbury Studio Theatre, both Birtwistle’s The Corridor (June) and the Paris-music-hall style Little Lightbulb Theatre/Battersea Arts Centre co-production, Orpheus (September).

64th Wexford Festival Opera

Wexford Festival Opera has served up another thought-provoking and musically rewarding trio of opera rarities — neglected, forgotten or seldom performed — in 2015.

Christoph Prégardien, Schubert, Wigmore Hall London

Another highlight of the Wigmore Hall complete Schubert Song series - Christoph Prégardien and Christoph Schnackertz. The core Wigmore Hall Lieder audience were out in force. These days, though, there are young people among the regulars : a sign that appreciation of Lieder excellence is most certainly alive and well at the Wigmore Hall. .

The Magic Flute in San Francisco

How did it go? Reactions of my neighbors varied. Some left at the intermission, others remarked that they thought the singing was good.

La Vestale, La Monnaie, Bruxelles

In the first half of the 19th century, Spontini’s La Vestale was a hit. Empress Josephine sponsored its premiere, Parisians heard it hundreds of times, Berlioz raved about it and Wagner conducted it.

Shattering Madama Butterfly Stockholm

An intelligent updating and outstanding performance of the title role lead to a shattering climax in Puccini's Japanese opera

Theodora, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées

Handel’s genius is central focus to the new staging of Handel’s oratorio Theodora at Paris' Théâtre des Champs-Élysées.

Bostridge Sings Handel

1985 must have been a good year for founding a musical ensemble, or festival or organisation, which would have longevity.



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):