Donzietti: Lucia di Lammermoor

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Donzietti
LABELS: Erato
WORKS: Lucia di Lammermoor
PERFORMER: Diana Damrau, Joseph Calleja, Ludovic Tézier, Nicolas Testé, David Lee, Marie McLaughlin, Andrew Lepri Meyer; Munich Opera Chorus & Orchestra/ Jesús López-Cobos
CATALOGUE NO: 2564621901

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This new recording of Donizetti’s bel canto classic was taped live in concert in Munich, July 2013. This production uses a fairly standard text Lucia, with the odd small cut. Interestingly, the glass harmonica part in the Mad Scene is here taken by the verrophone, in effect a modern version of the old instrument. It’s a part traditionally played on flute ever since the 1835 premiere, when there was a falling out with the glass harmonica player, who, it is said, refused to play due to an outstanding fee. The verrophone sounds very convincing.

So does this performance generally, with the two leads – German soprano Diana Damrau’s crazed bride and Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja’s doomed lover – both well cast in their roles. Damrau seizes hold of the text and is expressive and imaginative with her vocalism, even if she lacks an ideal richness of tone to quite achieve classic status. She’s slightly outgunned by Calleja, whose highly distinctive voice allows him to be ardent and eager; he shapes his lines with firm and sound artistic intentions, though in places a little more care and attention to detail would have paid even greater dividends.

As Lucia’s bullying brother Enrico, French baritone Ludovic Tézier is a little on the monolithic side, vocally full on and even at moments shouty, with not quite enough subtlety to match his colleagues. Nicolas Testé offers a solid and full-bodied bass as Lucia’s deceitful chaplain Raimondo, and Andrew Lepri Meyer uses his lightweight tenor to sketch in the duplicitous Normanno.

The choral forces of Munich Opera here could be neater, and though conductor Jesús López-Cobos is vital enough, occasionally his beat comes across as peremptory.

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George Hall