Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Donizetti
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Lucia di Lammermoor
PERFORMER: Mariusz Kwiecien, Anna Netrebko, Piotr Beczala, Colin Lee, Ildar Abdrazakov; Metropolitan Opera/Marco Armiliato; dir. Mary Zimmerman (New York, 2009)
CATALOGUE NO: 073 4526 (NTSC; PCM Stereo; 16:9 picture format)

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The New York Met 2007 production of Donizetti’s high-Romantic masterpiece, filmed on revival last February, misses the thrills and excitements that should be intrinsic to Lucia’s impassioned singing lines. But on its own terms it’s an enjoyable show.

Director Mary Zimmerman’s staging, despite moments of tiresome silliness, offers a Victorian gloss on the drama – Walter Scott refocused, as it were, through a Wilkie Collins lens – which adds a fresh and fascinating resonance.

This is reinforced by the filming, often steeply angled from front stage, and enjoys uncommonly strong choral and orchestral support. 

The leading singers, though none of them genuine Donizetti specialists, all belong to today’s front rank; and, curiously, all come from eastern Europe: Lucia and Raimondo from Russia, Edgardo and Enrico from Poland.

More significant than any lack of Italianate warmth is their failure to fuse word, tone and dramatic moment as Mariella Devia does in the (filmically far less imaginative) La Scala Lucia DVD from 1992 (on Opus Arte). Here the singing, wonderfully stirring in its generalised way, is largely stand-and-deliver, creating an overall effect of cardboard characters in an attractive setting.

The Enrico of dark-toned baritone Mariusz Kwiecien depends excessively on vocal force; the Edgardo is soppy, the Raimondo one-dimensional, and the Lucia – Anna Netrebko, gorgeous in tonal lustre, evenness and ease of utterance – increasingly reliant on doll‑like impassivity.

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The DVD extras, fronted by the production’s original heroine, Natalie Dessay, are of unwatchable banality. Max Loppert