Review Roundup: What Did The Critics Think Of Lucia di Lammermoor at The Met?

Lucia di Lammermoor is now open at The Metropolitan Opera!

The role of the fragile title heroine who teeters between love and madness is shared by sopranos Olga Peretyatko-Mariotti and Pretty Yende, who have each impressed audiences with dazzling bel canto portrayals at the Met. Vittorio Grigolo and Michael Fabiano share the role of her lover in this chilling production by Tony Award-winning director Mary Zimmerman. Roberto Abbado conducts.

Premiere: Teatro San Carlo, Naples, 1835. The character of Lucia has become an icon in opera and beyond, an archetype of the constrained woman asserting herself in society. She reappears as a touchstone for such diverse later characters as Flaubert's adulterous Madame Bovary and the repressed Englishmen in the novels of E. M. Forster. The insanity that overtakes and destroys Lucia, depicted in opera's most celebrated mad scene, has especially captured the public imagination. Donizetti's handling of this fragile woman's state of mind remains seductively beautiful, thoroughly compelling, and deeply disturbing.

The tale is set in Scotland, which, to artists of the Romantic era, signified a wild landscape on the fringe of Europe, with a culture burdened by a French-derived code of chivalry and an ancient tribal system. Civil war and tribal strife are recurring features of Scottish history, creating a background of fragmentation reflected in both Lucia's family situation and her own fragile psyche. The design of the Met's production by Mary Zimmerman suggests a 19th-century setting, and some of its visual elements are inspired by actual places in Scotland.

Donizetti's operas and those of his Italian contemporaries came to be classified under the heading of bel canto ("beautiful singing"), a genre that focused on vocal agility and lyrical beauty to express drama. Today, the great challenge in performing this music lies in finding the right balance between elegant but athletic vocalism and dramatic insight. Individual moments from the score that can be charming on their own take on increased dramatic force when heard within the context of the piece, perhaps most apparent in the soprano's extended Mad Scene in Act III.

The production is on stage March 22 - May 10. For more information and tickets click here:

Let's see what the critics have to say!

Anthony Tommasini, NY Times: There were admirable qualities to Ms. Peretyatko-Mariotti's Lucia. During her first aria, when she tells her handmaid Alisa (Deborah Nansteel) that she keeps seeing the ghost of a young woman slain by a jealous lover in the waters of a fountain at the castle, Ms. Peretyatko-Mariotti conveyed the emotional shakiness of her fragile character by injecting the ornate vocal lines with a touch of skittishness.

Eric C. Simpson: NY Classical Review: It was a less memorable night for Olga Peretyatko-Mariotti, taking her first crack at the title role at the Met. Like everyone else, she was swallowed up by the acoustic chasm of the Act I set, and her bland delivery of "Regnava nel silenzio" made the ghost scene feel tedious. Her intonation was questionable most of the night, and her top notes, once bursting with light, are now reaching past the point of strain. The show-stopping aria "Il dolce suono" was somewhat more secure, and dramatically compelling, as she found an eerie playfulness in the duet with glass armonica in the cadenza. On the whole, though, this was a disappointing outing for a star bel canto soprano.

Francisco Salazar, OperaWire: Well, I have something to report, Peretyatko-Mariotti has the technique and virtuoso power to cope with this difficult repertoire. No, her C#s, Ds and E flats are far from ideal, but we must remember bel canto is not about high notes. It is about long lines breath control and beautiful tone. It is about communicating the text and music. It is about acting up a storm and understanding the characters with clarity.

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