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Dessay starred in the first run of the oft-criticised Mary Zimmerman’s much-maligned 2007 production, and, indulged by the current conductor Patrick Summers, she clearly delights in adding a capella embellishments to the coloratura – particularly in Lucia’s “Mad Scene” at her wedding.
Brotherly love turns to coercion, lover’s vows turn to renouncement, and rivals glow with vengeance that trembles on the lip of desire.
Ludovic Tézier played Lord Enrico, the villain of this piece, supplying menace to his gravelly bass line.
It’s straightforward blood-and-thunder melodrama fuelled by jealousy and political rivalry (one can see the huge influence the piece has on the works of Verdi in this respect, as well as in some of the musical arrangements), with expressions of deeply romantic and forbidden love, swooning heroines, challenges to duels – the restored Wolf’s Crag scene, often cut, is intact here at the beginning of Act 3, only adding to an already over-heated situation – and of course a descent into pure madness and death with thunderstorms raging outside.
All of which would seem to give credence to the rather old-fashioned nature of the opera as little more than a dramatic piece for the leading diva to show off her credentials, and in some cases even make a name for herself.
“Joseph Calleja was sensationally ardent as Lucia’s lover, Edgardo” (The New York Times), the sixth role in his growing Met repertory.
His performances in the house have included the title character in Bartlett Sher’s new production of "Les Contes d’Hoffmann" and the lead tenor roles in this season’s revivals of "Rigoletto" and "La Bohème." French baritone Ludovic Tézier sings Enrico, the villainous brother who forces Lucia into an arranged marriage for his own gain.What is even more wonderful about her performance is that, while fully rising to the challenges of Lucia’s vocal parts, she also managed to remain focussed on her character’s dramatic journey of gradual disintegration.Lucia is torn between she man she loves, Edgardo di Ravenswood, and the duty towards her family, the Ashtons, and comes to feel that she is being used in the great feud that has existed between the two families.And so began a night of rape and murder and madness. The priest Raimondo, sung convincingly by Kwangchul Youn, held the moral center with his rich bass, a ground almonds and bitter chocolate tone that we wanted to believe in, even as he encouraged Lucia to her ruin.Edgardo, sung by tenor Joseph Calleja, is the lover who misunderstands, a lover infected with the ghost of past passions.If filmed, and shown in black-and-white, this Given that kind of stage to work with, each of the singers fully enter into the spirit of the drama, but some try to bring a little more shading to the characters.Vocally, all fully meet the demands – Dessay, evidently, but Joseph Callejo is a bit of a revelation, with a classic tenor voice that, with a bit more robustness and fitting of it into a more solid dramatic context, will be a fine singer of bel canto and Verdi dramas.Those concerns are heightened by her own fragile state of mind, one perhaps made fragile because of the long-running rivalry that has seen other tragic events take place, events in the past that leave ghosts in the grounds of Lammermoor castle that still haunt Lucia.Based on a novel by Sir Walter Scott, this is the stuff of pure melodrama however, and it can’t honestly be said that Donizetti seeks to give it any greater psychological depth or dramatic credibility, either through the playing out of the intense scenes or through any subtlety in the musical composition of the piece.Natalie Dessay and a superb orchestra completed that formula in Gaetano Donizetti’s .An Italian’s take on the wild Scotland of Sir Walter Scott gave us a love triangle that turns to hate.