Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Now that’s what I call a mad scene (ROH/Lucia)

Donizetti, Lucia di Lammermoor (Daniel Oren cond. Orchestra Royal Opera House)
To Diana Damrau in this bel canto feast, all were supporting cast. Alisa (Rachael Lloyd) was a faithful servant. The love interests were Edgardo (Charles Castronovo) and Arturo (Taylor Stayton). Lucia’s beatly brother was Enrico (Ludovic Tézier). Raimondo (Kwangchul Youn) and Normanno (Peter Hoare) were finely-sung too. 

Visually, this production was a feast. Katie Mitchell had split stages with gorgeous sets designed to emphasize the gothic; the bathroom was a particular hit in our party.
Why on earth was there such a fuss? Anyone who walked away from declaring of anything under than the sublime abilities of Diana Damrau, supremely secure at the very top range, might themselves require medical attention. The boors were out earlier in the run to boo, and the press were only too happy to oblige and make a jolly great fuss about it.
Shock horror: opera about sex and violence contains sex and violence. The most powerful representation was Lucia’s miscarriage. Undoubtedly, this was very hard to watch; male servants bidden hither and away with looks of horror added to the realism of this. But it should be hard to watch, and was hardly sensational.
After the interval, it is a mad scene to end all mad scenes. In this imagining miscarriage and murder were required of Lucia (Diana Damrau). Damrau was more than up to the task of being driven mad by a glassharmonica and horrendous circumstances.  Orchestrally things were very secure at the hands of Daniel Oren. Vocally Lucia had to sing both words and screams in a  performance which was as effective as it was impressive.

Cast and Credits
Music - Gaetano Donizetti
Director - Katie Mitchell
Designer - Vicki Mortimer
Lighting designer - Jon Clark
Associate director - Joseph Alford
Fight directors - Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown
Conductor - Daniel Oren
Lucia - Diana Damrau
Edgardo - Charles Castronovo
Enrico - Ludovic Tézier
Arturo - Taylor Stayton
Raimondo - Kwangchul Youn
Normanno - Peter Hoare
Alisa - Rachael Lloyd
Royal Opera Chorus
Concert master - Ania Safonova
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

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