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Bloody Wedding Dress!

New York
Metropolitan Opera
03/22/2018 -  & March 26, 30, April 3, 7, 11, 14, 25, 28, May 2, 5, 10, 2018
Gaetano Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor
Gregory Schmidt (Normanno), Luca Salsi*/Massimo Cavalletti/Quinn Kelsey (Enrico), Vitalij Kowaljow*/Alexander Vinogradov (Raimondo), Olga Peretyatko-Mariotti*/Jessica Pratt/Pretty Yende (Lucia), Deborah Nansteel (Alisa), Vittorio Grigolo*/Michael Fabiano (Edgardo), Mario Chang (Arturo)
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus, Roberto Abbado*/Gareth Morrell (conductor)
Mary Zimmerman (production), Daniel Ostling (sets), Mara Blumenfeld (costumes), T. J. Gerckens (lights), Daniel Pelzig (choreography)

(© Richard Termine)

Mary Zimmerman’s production of Donizetti’s iconic bel canto opera attracted much derision when it premiered on the opening night of the 2007-2008 season. Featuring the now prematurely retired Natalie Dessay in the title role, it had been much heralded with ads all over New York. But its updating of Sir Walter Scott’s medieval romance to the nineteenth-century gave it an unnecessary Victorian stiffness that its straightened costumes and stilted direction never shook off. Still, after the decade of the overblown flops that have dominated Peter Gelb’s administrative era, this production’s revival offers a theatrical charm that went unappreciated at the time. Even its Victorian idiom allows passion to emerge, perhaps in greater relief compared to all the new efforts that have failed on stage but certainly even within the opera’s dynamic of honor and propriety. Not even the superfluous ghost that haunts the action bothered me this time.

The starry casts that graced the production in past years have decreased in wattage, but Olga Peretyatko-Mariotti (as she is now known) acquitted herself reasonably well in the title role. One missed the lithe delicacy of Dessay and the riveting expressionism that Anna Netrebko brought to the role, but the steady, girlish qualities were still there to be heard. Nevertheless, the voice has matured to the point where it might be time for this talented soprano to start thinking about new directions and fresher repertoire. The mad scene was moving but lacked real imagination in the coloratura runs. Vittorio Grigolo hams up his ardent tenor characters, and did not disappoint on this count as Edgardo. He sang in excellent form, with bouncing tones and clarion notes but the overacting detracted from the overall effect. Luca Salsi made a fine contribution as Enrico. The stolid roll of the wise but powerless clergyman Raimondo emerged admirably in the singing of the talented Ukrainian bass Vitalij Kowaljow.

Roberto Abbado led a tight, invigorating performance on the revival’s March 22 opening night, very much living up to his late uncle’s celebrated reputation.

Paul du Quenoy



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