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Scottish Love Story, Sung in Italian, Performed in Canada—Donizetti’s “Lucia Di Lammermoor”

Posted by glennled on May 3, 2015

Royal Theatre, Victoria, B.C., Canada

Royal Theatre, Victoria, B.C., Canada

My, oh, my, how they saw love in Scotland and Italy in the early 1800’s! Sir Walter Scott published his novel, The Bride of Lammermoor, in 1819, and Donizetti produced his opera, Lucia di Lammermoor, based on the novel, in 1835. It’s said to be a drama tragico written in the bel canto tradition. What’s that? Well, to me, an opera novice, that sounds like the opera is a tragedy, probably turgid or melodramatic, in which the singers belt out a lot of fast-moving notes over an extremely wide range…i.e., a very sad story told through very difficult, sometimes beautiful music.

Gaetano Donizetti, c. 1835

Gaetano Donizetti, c. 1835

So, what happens? Sure enough, three protagonists die in the third act, one by murder, one by suicide, and one of a broken heart that induces insanity. That’s early 19th century love for you! Only the villain, Enrico, survives. As he manipulates others in his own struggle for power, casualties fall dead on the stage, one by one, including his helpless sister, Lucia and her two suitors, one of whom she loves passionately but tragically. In the end, Enrico is forced to see what he has wrought, and his pain and guilt hang heavily and darkly over the final scene.

My wife and I have now seen two operas in Victoria, B.C. (see my post of 2 June 2014, regarding Richard Strauss’ Ariadne Auf Naxos). We saw this second opera on the evening of Valentine’s Day, 14 February 2015. It was performed in the Royal Theatre by Pacific Opera Victoria with the Victoria Symphony and the Pacific Opera Chorus. Lucia di Lammermoor is generally considered Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti’s masterpiece among his ~75 operas.

2 Responses to “Scottish Love Story, Sung in Italian, Performed in Canada—Donizetti’s “Lucia Di Lammermoor””

  1. Nancy said

    Nice review, Glenn. From my point of view, the music was rather astounding, complex, demanding, and breathtakingly beautiful at times. But the story line was just as astoundingly UN-beautiful–tragic and unreal, almost comedic in its extremes. That the three protagonists die and the villain lives pretty much sums it up. In spite of its exaggerated pathos, the opera was well done and thoroughly entertaining.

  2. glennled said

    Thanks, Nancy, well said. A nice, entertaining Valentine’s Day night.

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