WORKS: Lucie de Lammermoor (sung in French)
PERFORMER: Natalie Dessay, Roberto Alagna, Ludovic Tézier, Marc Laho, Nicolas Cavallier, Yves Saelens; Lyon National Opera Orchestra & Chorus/Evelino Pidò
CATALOGUE NO: 5 45528 2
In its original Italian form, Donizetti’s opera took off at its premiere (Naples, 1835) and was quickly seen in the French capital and virtually every other city capable of mounting an opera. The composer, who worked increasingly frequently in Paris from 1839 on, was persuaded by the directors of the Théâtre de la Renaissance to adapt it specifically to a French text. So successful was the result that it became, and long remained, the standard local version, used at the Opéra itself.
This recording is based on a new critical edition of that text, performed at the Lyon Opera in 2002. It’s essentially the score we know, though there are differences. Lucia’s first aria is replaced with one written for the 1834 Rosmonda d’Inghilterra, and her duet with Raimondo is omitted. Since Lucia’s confidante Alisa also disappears, and the part of the treacherous Normanno is fleshed out into the positively Machiavellian Gilbert, there are several other relatively minor rewrites. Details of the plot are slightly clearer than in the original.
The names of the characters are, of course, different. Natalie Dessay sings Lucie, with a limited range of colour but appreciable technical virtuosity. Ludovic Tézier sings her bully of a brother Henri with dark-toned vigour. Roberto Alagna finds very congenial employment for his lyric tenor and flawless French as Edgar while Yves Saelens is splendid as Gilbert. Evelino Pidò conducts a spirited account of the score, regularly revealing the inventiveness of Donizetti’s orchestral writing. George Hall