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Posts Tagged ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’

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.

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My Trumpet Student Stars in Bizet’s “Carmen” at Seattle Opera

Posted by glennled on November 1, 2011

Anita Rachvelishvili (Carmen) with ensemble; © Elise Bakketun photo, courtesy of Seattle Opera, http://www.seattleopera.org.

My trumpet student, John (51), may cringe when he sees that headline, but that’s too bad—to me, he’s a Star! No, he doesn’t play in the orchestra. No, he doesn’t sing a major role in any opera. No, he doesn’t sing in the opera chorus. He’s simply a “super”—an “extra.”

In Carmen, just finished at the Seattle Opera House, he was a banderillero at the bullring in Seville, Spain. Wearing the traditional black and silver costume and carrying his bright yellow banderilla, he lead the parade of bullfighters into the ring. Banderillas are sharp,

Planting the banderillas

barbed sticks which are planted into the bull’s shoulders to weaken it for the kill.

On 4 October, he appeared in full costume on King 5 TV during a segment of the New Day Northwest show, promoting Carmen for the Seattle Opera (see http://www.king5.com/new-day-northwest/The-Seattle-Opera-Performs-131056473.html  toward the end of the segment). He was on stage only twice per performance in this opera.

John has been a faithful and competent extra in enough operas so that the opera company gave him a couple of complimentary tickets for the Friday night performance on 28 October. The seats were outstanding—right in the center section on the Orchestra Level (main floor) of McCall Hall . He kindly offered them to me and my wife, and we quickly and gratefully accepted. We usually attend one or two operas per season. We just saw Porgy and Bess last August (see my post of 15 August 2011).

Georges Bizet, 1838-1875

Carmen is now our favorite, supplanting La Boheme by Puccini. Both are consistently among the top 10 operas performed annually throughout the world. Carmen was first performed 136 years ago in Paris on 3 March 1875. It struggled to survive, and Georges Bizet, composer, died on 3 June just after its 30th performance. He could never have guessed its prominence today in operatic lore. In 1962, I was lucky enough to play second trumpet in a production in the old Meany Hall at the University of Washington. The Dean of the School of Music, Dr. Stanley Chapple, was the conductor.

John, originally from New York, commenced trumpet lessons with me almost two years ago (see my post of 7 January 2010). Carmen is John’s fourth opera, all in Seattle. In 2008, he was a soldier in the grand processional march in Verdi’s Aida. In 2009, he was a lackey/servant in Verdi’s La Traviata.  In 2010, he was a Normano guard/soldier in

Poster, American Production, 1896

Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. He did it the first time because it sounded like so much fun. It was, so two of his good friends decided to do it also. He says he keeps doing it because he loves opera—the acting, singing, orchestral music, and (sometimes) dancing. “Being on stage with some of this incandescent talent is a very special experience [and that gives him] “the best seats in the house! Someone asked me what I get paid to do it, and I told them that when I interviewed for the role, I asked if I had to pay.”

When Carmen ended Saturday night, another “super” (a Microsoft corporate Vice President) hosted an after-hours party at Ten Mercer in Lower Queen Anne, about a block from Seattle Center. John contributed some wine. “Just about everyone showed up, including all the principals,” he says, and “we didn’t get outta there until 2:30 a.m.”

Somehow, I think that if he could, Georges Bizet would have been there, too, happy and proud.

Posted in Professional Concerts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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