BWW Review: LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR Crazily Sweeps Away at The Israeli Opera
Fuente: Broadway World
For an Opera that is described as dark, intense and ruthless and its plot is filled with murder, betrayal, insanity and death, at its end it might become even more tragic, as expected, but in Gaetano Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor the journey through all that has many beautiful and captivating moments, especially in this revival of the Israeli Opera's 2012 production, originally directed by Emilio Sagi while the revival director is Javier Ulacia.
The story takes place in the Lowlands of Scotland in the 16th century and tells about Enrico Ashton who in his search of a way to forge an alliance with the new ruling party of Scotland's throne uses his sister Lucia, who is still emotionally fragile due to their mother's recent death, and manipulates her into a diplomatic marriage while deceiving her with forged letters from Edgardo, her love who emigrated to France after they exchanged rings as tokens of their fidelity. Enrico does this with the help of Normano, his accomplice, in order to weaken Lucia's resistance for such an arrangement. All the while Lucia is advised by her handmaid, Alisa, and is being pressed towards the marriage by the pastor, Raimondo. As Edgardo appears at her wedding ceremony in which she resistantly marries Arturo, he curses her for her betrayal which leads Lucia to insanity, one that later becomes even greater after she murders her husband.
With a nearly full house at Tel Aviv's Opera House, the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center, an extraordinary chorus, the original production's set, costumes and lights, if it weren't for the everyday clothes of the orchestra's musicians you couldn't tell this was the dress rehearsal. Though all this should've been said about the soloists, other than Israeli Hila Baggio who played Lucia these elements were the most impressive in this production.
The cast includes mostly men in this opera, which made it even more evident when some of them weren't as amazing as expected. While Italian tenor Salvatore Cordella who played Edgardo was brilliant in each of his scenes with presenting both his vocal and acting large ranges and doing so with a strong voice, others failed to do the same in either one or all of these factors among others. Whether it was Israeli tenor Joseph Aridan who played Arturo as both his singing was hardly heard and his acting was at times confusing, or Russian bass-baritone Vladimir Braun who even though his singing was clear and fluent seemed both distant and heavy in his portrayal of the pastor, Raimondo. Reprising their roles from the 2012 production, both Israeli tenor Guy Mannheim as Normano and Romanian baritone Ionut Pascu as Enrico were very convincing in their roles but they didn't fully manage to use their voices as it was quite a challenge to hear them, Mannheim more than Pascu, especially when they were backed by the chorus. Pascu also struggled during the faster notes to keep up with the orchestra's tempo.<
Speaking of the incomparable Israeli Opera Chorus, led by chorus master Ethan Schmeisser, other than not seeming full of horror even though following the pastor's announcement about Lucia murdering her husband Arturo they inform that they are, their superbly united singing, voice control and surprising acting abilities created an unbelievable experience. With a chorus such as this it could only be fitting to accompany it by the precise, soft and mesmerizing Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon LeZion, conducted by Daniele Callegari.
Other than Lucia, the female soloists also included Israeli mezzo-soprano Anat Czarny as Alisa who given her noticeable abilities deserved better directing of her role. Hila Baggio appeared to be very comfortable in the role of Lucia, singing easily and clearly while fearlessly flowing in the required vocal range, as opposed to what could be seen in the production's short preview by Spanish soprano Maria Jose Moreno with whom she shares this role, though this could easily be misjudged due to the video's editing or timing during the rehearsals. In the second scene of part two Baggio was even more in character, precise and tender while she presented an astounding performance of the "mad scene".
When it comes to the 2012 original set, designed by Enrique Bordolini, costumes, designed by Imme Moller, and lighting, designed by Eduardo Bravo, they complete each other and the opera so well that it's most understandable why they were all kept the same as they were five years ago. This is only one example of how masterpieces such as this opera and others, which were written almost 200 years ago, don't require many changes from one production to another in order to remain great, regardless of the time passed.
Photo Credit: Yossi Zwecker