Highly Overrated But Still Good
Good concept, poorly executed.
Entertaining from beginning to end, it maintains the spirit of the franchise while establishing it's own seal with a fun cast
Great story, amazing characters, superb action, enthralling cinematography. Yes, this is something I am glad I spent money on.
Growing up in Pittsburgh I was raised on opera but somehow had never caught a performance of "Lucia." The Metropolitan's outdoor HD Live festival changed that for me Sunday night. I've found a new favorite in the repertoire!I'm not going to claim I recognized any tuneful arias or that "Lucia" sent me humming home on the crosstown bus. What did strike me were the powerfully enacted dynamics of the storyline itself. Anna Netrebko soars as Lucia, a young woman pressured to self-sacrifice for the sake of her family. Mariusz Kwiecien (Enrico) is superb as the brother who can't see beyond his own obsessive need to control. This pair of top-tier singers did a great job conjuring the struggle between autonomy and selfishness as Enrico tries to force Lucia to drop her beloved Edgardo -- scion of a rival clan -- and accept a politically correct spouse she doesn't even know. (Given Edgardo's treatment and fate, this is surely one of the more thankless roles in opera!) Enrico: "The nuptial bed awaits you!" Lucia: "No, the tomb!"And so the extremely gripping story goes. The ghostly backdrop conjured by Mary Zimmerman was stunning, creating an organically satisfying viewing experience. As a special treat before the performance, Met General Manager Peter Gelb introduced Kwiecien and Piotr Beczala, who played Edgardo. They charmingly assured the crowd they were actually great friends in real life.In all, this was one enchanting evening.
I love opera and Lucia Di Lammermoor is not quite among my favourites but of the Bel Canto repertoire it is a masterpiece. The story is good and compelling, one of the better stories with Donizetti's music set to it, and the music is magnificent with the highlights being the Sextet and the Mad scene.This Met production is not a complete disaster, as there are some very good things, but I found myself very disappointed. I'd go as far to say that of the Lucias I've seen this one is my least favourite. That saddens me because the Met are mostly very consistent, with almost all of them ranging from good to truly outstanding.Lets get the good things out of the way. There is no doubt the music is brilliant, and the orchestra, chorus and conducting do justice to this score wonderfully, with the sound fully complimenting. The costumes and sets are both sumptuous and atmospheric, with Netrebko looking very striking in her Mad scene, and the picture quality is clear and camera work interesting.I personally didn't mind the updating to the Victorian era, though Netrebko's dress in the first act could have had a more Gothic touch to it, I couldn't help thinking of Little Women or something or other.The singing is mostly very good. While Mariusz Kwiecien is a scheming, powerful yet somewhat sympathetic Enrico and Raimondo, Normanno and Alice solid, the star for me was Piotr Bezcala as Edgardo. I was disappointed that Rolando Villazon dropped out, he has been growing on me and I have to admit he works really well with Netrebko. However Bezcala does do a wonderful job, he sings beautifully yet is very ardent and impassioned. His final scene is suitably heart-breaking.While Enrico and Edgardo are great, I personally found Anna Netrebko inconsistent as Lucia. I am not a fan of Netrebko, though I don't hate her and have found her effective in many roles. She looks beautiful, does show evidence of acting skill and does have a good voice with a nice loose and free high register. She also interacts very well with Bezcala and particularly with Kwiecien, even if I don't quite have the feeling I get when listening to Sutherland Pavarotti and Milnes, Ricciarelli Carreras and Nucci or Callas DiStefano and Gobbi.At other points of the production however, she disappoints. I found her too light-hearted and vivacious in act 1, and felt in general she doesn't convey the psychological troubles that Lucia in the opera has. The Mad scene is well lit, Netrebko looks striking and haunting, and she sings stylishly enough. Against this, some of her gestures are on the over-theatrical side and don't fit with the mood of the scene, and for me some of her high notes were very flat.I was also very mixed on the staging. Some was effective such as the Ghost of Lucia following Edgardo to the tomb and staircase set in the Mad scene. The Sextet on the other hand was a disaster, singing and conducting were nice and efficient, but the paparazzi busybody photographer was not only distracting but completely unnecessary, and took away from any dramatic tension, pathos or conflict that makes that particular scene so compelling.All in all, disappointing but considering how well musically it is and on the whole visually too, it could have been much worse than it turned out. 6/10 Bethany Cox
Donizetti's librettist Salvadore Cammarano does a brutal job of chopping Sir Walter Scott's long novel, The Bride of Lammermoor down to a manageable two hours or so of opera. Basically he just takes the last 100 pages, chops out all the religion and politics and then rewrites what remains. The Met's new production moves the period from the late 17th to century to the Victorian era so what little political and religious context there is left makes no sense at all.Hey ho but this is an opera, and a brilliant piece of bel canto at that so who's complaining. It stars Anna Netrebko, whom the Met audience applauds on her entrance in recognition of her superstar status. The opera features the most famous mad scene in the entire repertoire which Netrebko pulls off impressively. One thing that I have noticed about her here and in La Sonnambula and I Puritani is that she does not do barking mad in the manner of say, Natalie Dessay or Stefania Bonfadelli. The lovely Netrebko does a very demure sort of madness. There is a little bit of self-harming as she draws a dagger across her cheek but no eye-popping, carpet chewing rolling on the floor. One huge plus point about the Met's production is that they use a glass harmonica, as originally specified by Donizetti. This is rare these days and it adds that extra touch of weird beauty to the mad scene. One other imaginative touch, which I don't think I have seen before is that we actually see the ghost that haunts Lucia's thoughts. At the end, the ghost is Lucia herself as she urges her lover Edgardo to kill himself. director Mary Zimmerman's imagination does run away with her though during the famous sextet. It is staged as a photo opportunity for a Victorian cameraman and the intricate music gets lost in all the stage business.Lucia's evil brother Enrico is interpreted impressively by baritone Mariusz Kwiecien. As Edgardo, Piotr Beczala deputises for an indisposed Rolando Villazon. All I can say is: a star is not born.