Saturday, March 19, 2011

Viva Natalie

Lucia...................Natalie Dessay (coloratura soprano)
Edgardo.................Joseph Calleja (tenor)
Enrico..................Ludovic Tézier (baritone)
Raimondo................Kwangchul Youn (bass)
Normanno................Philip Webb (tenor)
Alisa...................Theodora Hanslowe (mezzo-soprano)
Arturo..................Matthew Plenk (tenor)

Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor in the Zimmerman production was the first do-over in the Metropolitan Opera in HD series. We knew when they asked Natalie Dessay to host Anna Netrebko's version that she was pissed. Well, it was pretty nervy of them.

Today Renée Fleming was the hostess. She interviewed everyone in sight, including the two dogs who appear at the beginning of the opera. The owners explained that they were so well behaved because they were show dogs. They're trained to be well behaved with strangers.

I'm getting in all the nonsense before talking about the opera. Renée interviewed Natalie in the second intermission and asked her how she got in the right mood for the mad scene. Among other things she said she thought about how this might be her last Lucia at the Met and how she wanted to create a memory for everyone. One can only wonder. Renée also asked her about what she thought about while she performed. Renée asked all the right questions. Natalie said that she no longer thought only about the acting--she thought about her breath, about the music. She is thinking more about the music these days. There was also quite a lot of talk from multiple sources about how Natalie ad libs ornaments. I'm pretty sure I noticed this.

It was a wonderful mad scene and the most I have cried at Lucia. With Natalie you feel the madness. It is curious that at the end where she appears as the ghost, she no longer seems mad, just certain that Edgardo should pass over. I love the ghost and Natalie's reaction to her. Thank you, Mary. There was no glass harmonica.

Which brings us to Joseph Calleja, today's Edgardo. If I have used his name in vain, a thousand pardons. The problem between me and Joseph has been that I have not heard him in the right thing. The right thing, apparently, is Edgardo in Lucia. The sweet spots in his voice precisely mesh with the sweet spots in this role to glorious effect.

I liked the whole cast here better than the last time. We all liked Ludovic Tézier as Enrico.

If it is Natalie's last Lucia, and I'm not saying it is, it was wonderful.

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