If you want to dive into Romantic opera, Ill see you this Saturday. Late morning, specifically 11 a.m., an unlikely witching hour for a plunge into the recesses of madness, Donizettis Lucia di Lammermoor will be shown at Durango Stadium 9.
Thanks to The Met: Live in HD, an enraged bride will wreak destruction on her wedding night again. Shes been doing it since 1835, and its a sight to behold.
The Mets revival of Lucia is a new production, designed by a stellar theater conceptualist Mary Zimmerman. Apparently, this Lucia will not be as excessive or over-the-top as standard bloody-handkerchief versions of the past. Well see.
The story is based on The Bride of Lammermoor, a novel, make that a potboiler by Sir Walter Scott. Its basically an old folk tale about a young woman forced into an arranged marriage to save the familys farm, finances and reputation. The consequences are more than unfortunate, especially for the unsuspecting husband. The libretto describes Lucia as beside herself with misery and fear. Shes also a murderess.
Aside from Lucias acting out, as we say today, other plot details include two feuding families, a scheming brother, a wealthy suitor, a secret lover, a recently deceased parent, mist on the moors and a fountain haunted by a ghost. You say you like horror movies? Well, this is operatic horror for you dressed up as an ancient Scottish squabble.
Amid of an extremely productive career as an opera composer, Donizetti (1797-1848) lived a life full of work and tragedy. He died at a relatively young age, 51. Almost everyone in his family preceded him in death his parents, his wife and their three children. Toward the end, he was ill and struggled with his own version of insanity.
Despite all this personal tragedy, he persisted in creating new works, many of which are about extreme characters: Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda and Lucrezia Borgia, a performance of which I was lucky enough to see last fall. Unlike poor put-upon Lucia, Lucrezia put plenty upon others, including a death sentence on her own son.
Lucia continues to be Donizettis most-famous opera. It premiered in 1835 and has remained a favorite of audiences, opera companies and sopranos ever since.
The petite French soprano Natalie Dessay will sing the lead role. Shes known to all of us who frequent the Santa Fe Opera. She has performed in that splendid theater as she continues an extremely busy international career.
Opposite her as the beleaguered secret lover Edgardo will be tenor Joseph Calleja.
It will be interesting to see if Zimmermans drier interpretation heightens, lowers, intensifies or changes the emotional temperature of this opera classic. From all reports, it will be different.
Expect the live transmission of a matinee performance to be compelling, close-ups unbelievable, music memorable and English subtitles helpful.
As I said, well see.
Judith Reynolds is a Durango writer, artist and critic. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.