You'll be glad (or indifferent) to know that Lucia di Lammermoor was a much more enjoyable opera experience for me than last week's tale of terror and with relief I report there was not a wing-ed hat in sight. (see Handmaid Horror)
At first I was puzzled, what is this stinging sensation in my hands? My bewilderment turned to quiet joy as I realized the feeling was from clapping! I remember clapping! And several times no less.
All the performers put on an excellent show and worked Donizetti’s score to its core, a piece filled with flourishes and frilliness but also dark and ominous claps of thunder. Some of the music at times seemed at odds with the action taking place. Then again, if I was singing about politics or tricking my sister into marrying the wrong fella, I might want to do it to a snappy tune too.
It also sounded to me like the composer may have cribbed several bits from other composers but this could just be trace memories of old Bugs Bunny episodes or car commercials.
The sets were silly and didn't serve the story well at all but would I still be human if I couldn’t forgive once in a while? Can I hold the set designer responsible for the fact that my imagination cannot make the leap from seeing a twelve foot rectangular wooden coffin like box to imagining it to be a beautiful fountain where love’s first bloom is watered?
You may recall the blue alien diva in the film The Fifth Element who sings a lovely aria?
This is Lucia's song 'Il Dolce Suono' (The Sweet Sound) that comes after she's killed her new husband in a fit of madness and despair. Covered in blood and with more than a little crazy on her face, she manages to sing this loveliest of songs and begins hallucinating that she and her true love are back at the fountain (box) and then that she's preparing for their wedding.
With half the town a witness to her sweet torture and a brief respite of lucidity, she by her own hand...well it involves a sword and her throat. If you’ve ever tried to get blood out of a white dress, you may know something of her anguish and ultimate decision.
A comedy of manners this opera was not but for pathos and romantic sentimentality, it beats La Boheme in my opinion. At least Lucia doesn't cough and give in; she goes out with a slice.