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Classic and Stylish

Symphony Hall
10/12/2012 -  & October 13, 14* (Phoenix), 20, 21 (Tucson), 2012
Gaetanno Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor
Lisette Oropesa (Lucia di Lammermoor), Joseph Walverton (Sir Edgardo di Ravenswood), Mark Walters (Lord Enrico Ashton), David Margulis (Lord Arturo Bucklaw), Jordan Bisch (Raimondo Bidebent), Laura Wilde (Alisa), Samuel Read Levine (Normanno)
Arizona Opera Orchestra and Chorus, Henri Venanzi (Chorus Master), Steven White (Conductor)
Fenlon Lamb (Director), Robert R. O’Hearn (sets), A. T. Jones & Sons (costumes), Douglas Provost (lights)

L. Oropesa (© Jeff Reeder/Courtesy of A.O.)

With this new production of Lucia di Lammermoor, Arizona Opera gets off to a stylish start.

The cast unanimously responds to the demands of the work, and the bel canto style of singing is upheld with talent. MET habituée Lisette Oropesa is a very worthy Lucia, this is unquestionable. Dramatically, she underlines the vacillation between joy and sadness and her descent into madness is gradually depicted. Maybe just a little too unaturally at times, especially with some distorted facial expressions or gestures. An easy fix. Vocally, Oropesa carefully maneuvers around the florid writing and coloratura passages of the mad scene with solid technique and she nails the (un-written, but expected) final e-flat with aplomb. The voice is full-bodied with an attractive creamy tone and clear timbre that does not lose its color in the high register. Add to this some delicious piani and you have a commendable Lucia.

Mark Walters sings an elegant Enrico with a sturdy and strong baritone voice. Joseph Wolverton is the right tenor for the part of Edgardo, with a ringing high register and a beautiful legato line. His “Bel alma inamorata” would have sounded much better, however, without some occasional - admittedly “very” occasional - slips into verismo style. Jordan Bisch has an attractive bass and he pins an interesting Raimondo. Samuel Levine (Normanno), David Margulis (Arturo), and Laura Wilde (Alisa) round up a laudable cast. The Arizona Opera Chorus always masterfully prepared by Henri Venanzi, is in top form, bringing a beautiful sound to this exciting presentation. In the pit, Steven White leads a routine performance, with no particular impetus, but at least leaves enough space for the singers. The orchestra delivers a beautiful sound, as usual, with special mention to harpist Becky Foreman for a distinguished solo in the first act, and to principal flautist Paula Redinger for an impeccable accompaniment in the mad scene.

Fenlon Lamb’s direction is classic and well in line with the libretto. Maybe she could have done away with the numerous and unnecessary apparitions of the ghost foretelling Lucia’s tragic death. It made spectators giggle more than anything else. Good idea for a Halloween party, though. The sets and glorious costumes, underlined by effective lighting are totally in keeping with Walter Scott’s novel: gloomy, ominous, and foreboding.

If the company maintains such quality throughout the season, opera fans in Arizona should be ecstatic.

Next up is Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, followed by Tosca, Il trovatore, and The Marriage of Figaro.

Christian Dalzon



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