WORKS: Lucia di Lammermoor (in English)
PERFORMER: Elizabeth Futral, Paul Charles Clarke, Alan Opie; Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, Philharmonia Orchestra/David Parry
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 3083(2)
If there is a body of operas crying out for English-language reinterpretation it’s surely the bel canto works Donizetti set in Britain: Emily of Liverpool, Anne Boleyn, Rosamund of England and so on. But David Parry’s efficient translation ultimately undermines the project by keeping the original librettist’s names, not Walter Scott’s, leaving us with Edgardo, Lord of Ravenswood, Enrico, Laird of Lammermoor, and more preposterously still, the retainer Normanno.
Parry’s conducting, however, is altogether more inspired. And it’s the Philharmonia’s exuberant, dashing performance that really brings this recording to life. There’s not a weak link among the soloists. The tenor Paul Charles Clarke makes an ardent, dramatic Edgardo (and full marks for diction), while Christine Rice in the tiny role of Alisa is luxury casting indeed. But this opera lives or dies by its Lucia, and though Elizabeth Futral is hard to fault in the role, she is harder to like. She negotiates the terrific coloratura with phenomenal ease and agility, yet her harsh, bright tone is inappropriately invulnerable and sometimes abrasive, and her plummy opera-English is only intermittently intelligible. It’s a laudable enterprise, but compared with the classic accounts by Sutherland, Callas and even Cheryl Studer, there’s no contest. Claire Wrathall