Natalie Dessay Lucia Di Lammermoor

Natalie Dessay Lucia Di Lammermoor-7
The look of the whole production, with the exception of the Wolf's Crag scene where the set is rather perfunctory, is fantastic.

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It is unclear why she chose to update the drama from its original late seventeenth century setting to the mid-nineteenth century, but the results of so doing include making the premise for the Ashton-Ravenswood feud rather less likely, and Edgardo's mission to France a very strange whim, given how far beyond the auld alliance Zimmerman's context is.

There are gains to be made as well however, since Enrico's straightened circumstances and faded grandeur can be more acutely conveyed when their effects are shown in a dishevelled nineteenth-century reception room as opposed to a seventeenth-century baronial hall, when the interior design options available were more primitive.

Having been dramatically underwhelming in Act I, Dessay grew in stature during Act II and proved herself to be a strong actress during the duet with Enrico and the wedding scene.

But nothing had prepared me for the impact she made in the mad scene.

But in the cabaletta to the entrance aria, the coloratura was used to express girlish joy, to get at Alisa, and gradually turn her around to Lucia's way of thinking, so that she did eventually relent and allow Lucia to delight in her love.

Inevitably, it was the mad scene where Zimmerman and Dessay created their best work.

His singing earlier in the evening had been appealing, if not completely free of issues, but by the end of his final scene he was absolutely exhausted.

He had enough commitment to carry his difficult closing aria off, but his top notes betrayed considerable strain.

The run on the repetition of 'da' tuoi nemici' was very expressive, accompanied by a physical spasm which made it a totally convincing manifestation of her extreme mental state.

Countless examples of this abounded throughout the scene, but the top B flat she let out as a cry of pain when she received a shot in the arm from the doctor was particularly deeply affecting, and the rage and victimisation she conveyed through the embellished second verse of 'spargi d'amaro pianto' in response to this was almost painful to watch, so thrillingly immediate did the drama seem.


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