Monday, 28 November 2016

Gaetano Donizetti, Lucia di Lammermoor - Oper Leipzig

Premiere performance 26th November

For day 3 of my november opera marathon I chose the premiere performance of Donizetti's bloodcurdling story which is based on Walter Scott's "The bride of Lammermoor". The production suffered a severe setback last week due to an accident of the female protagonist who suffered a ligament rupture. The Oper Leipzig has my greatest respect for reacting immediately and changing the production together with director Katharina Thalbach. Lucia now sang from a wheelchair most of the time and was driven around by Thalbach herself as the appearance of her death mother / witch / whatever. This worked out pretty well and actually suited the story quite interestingly. Thalbach's staging was quite conservative in general and showed a very naturalistic approach. Unfortunately it also ended up being a bit boring everynow and then. The production did not really succed to thrill the audience totally. The beautiful stage by Momme Röhrbein looked really amazing with the naturalistic display of a Scottish landscape. Also the historic costumes by Angelika Rieck (including kilts) gave a lovely impression and suited the roles.
Anthony Bramall led the musical part of the evening and conducted a very slim and clear version of the score with great sense for the support of the singers and the beautiful belcanto lines. The Gewandhausorchester Leipzig played with great passion and marvelous unity. The orchestra was able to create the wonderful tension of the beautiful phrases that simply carried away the audience. The Chor der Oper Leipzig also gave a good performance with a very balanced elegant sound and clear accuracy during the great ensemble scenes.
In the smaller roles of Normanno, Alisa and Lord Arturo Buchlaw we heard Dan Karlström, Sandra Janke and Sergei Pisarev. Karlström and Pisarev convinced with clear and flexible tenor voices, while Janke's mezzo voice sometimes could have been more flexible. however she did good job with the role.
In the role of the priest Raimondo Sejong Chang knew how to convince the audience with his mighty dark voice. His timbre has great radiance and the required dignity for the role and that is why he earned a lot of applause for his truly fine performance in the end.
Lucia's evil brother, Lord Enrico Ashton, was performed by Mathias Hausmann who doubtlessly gave the performance of the evening. His flexible and sonorous baritone voice has such a beautiful timbre and his highly musical phrasing suited the role perfectly. He showed great understanding of the belcanto techniques and was able to give a really convincing performance.
Tenor Antonio Poli as Edgardo di Ravenswood unfortunately was not able to convince as impressively as Hausmann. Poli sang the role without any serious issues, but failed to show real passion for the role. His acting was dreadful and of such a mannered style that it simply did not appear seriously anymore. His cheesy operatic gestures looked like a parody of an opera performance and seemed really inappropriate. Even though his vocal performance was pleasing and showed a decent voice he did not really convince during this performance.
The title role was sung by young soprano Anna Virovlansky who did a great job despite her handicap. Her voice is flexible, well balanced and has a relatively dark timbre for this role. She sang her lines very beautifully with great passion and commitment. Only the very top notes always seemed a bit uncomfortable and were cut short. I personally think that this is not a role that suits her voice very well. She manages the part without any serious issues and is able to impress with her coloratura but it simply does not seem totally appropriate. Nevertheless it is highly thankworthy and impressive that she sang this highly demanding role after her accident and that endurance definitely earned her standing ovations after the performance.
Alltogether an entertaining evening that was wether really good nor really bad, but simply a lovely evening with great music and a solid performance. Therefor I give 7 stars to the new production of Lucia di Lammermoor at the Oper Leipzig.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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