WORKS: Lucia di Lammermoor
PERFORMER: Juan Pons, Cheryl Studer, Plácido Domingo, Samuel Ramey, Fernando de la Mora, Jennifer Larmore, Anthony Laciura; Ambrosian Opera Chorus, LSO/Ion Marin
CATALOGUE NO: 435 309-2 DDD
Given that this new studio recording doesn’t stem from a stage production and that neither Studer nor Domingo has been especially associated with the opera, this is a considerable achievement, indeed a serious competitor to the rival Callas (EMI) and Sutherland (Decca) versions (two of each).
Cheryl Studer’s amazing versatility is so well known that it should come as no surprise that someone as at home with the Queen of the Night as with Sieglinde should offer such a technically secure and touchingly expressive portrayal of Lucia. The coloratura and stratospheric tessitura pose no problem (though she chooses not to ascend to the traditional top E flat at the end of the Mad Scene), and with her firm register she communicates gravity as well as dreamy pathos. Plácido Domingo’s characterisation is a shade less vivid but he offers a sympathetic and noble Edgardo with singing as stylish and immaculate as we would expect.
Juan Pons offers a dependable if slightly dull Enrico, Samuel Ramey a suave and sonorous Raimondo, and the lesser roles are all in highly capable hands. Particular assets of this set are the lively, full-bodied choral singing and orchestral playing under the firm yet flexible direction of Ion Marin.
Those wanting a good, modern Lucia need look no further than this, even if the special qualities of the Callas and Sutherland versions are in no way diminished. Antony Bye