Designer: Vicki Mortimer
Lucia: Diana Damrau
Edgardo: Charles Castronovo
Enrico: Ludovic Tézier
Arturo: Taylor Stayton
Raimondo: Kwangchul Youn
Normanno: Peter Hoare
Alisa: Rachael Lloyd
The notorious Lucia di Lammermoor from the Royal Opera Covent Garden played last night in my local movie theater. It was a not to be missed.
This is Lucia with all the details left in and then more details added. The stage is divided into two sections for every scene, allowing the character Lucia to be on stage throughout the opera.
The opera begins at the haunted fountain where Enrico and his cohorts are searching for clues to an intruder and ultimately find a message from Lucia to Edgardo hidden in the fountain. The ghost of the fountain is there, but the men do not notice her. On the other side of the stage Lucia is in her dressing room preparing to go out disguised as a man.
We are still at the fountain when Lucia enters with her maid, also disguised as a man. She sees the ghost who goes up to her and kisses her. Lucia seems to be the only one who notices the ghost. She sings "Regnava nel silenzio" and describes the ghost to Alisa.
Edgardo arrives for the love duet. They undress each other and fuck while singing bel canto, to mysterious effect. I wonder if the porn industry has thought of this. Edgardo must leave for France, and they exchange rings.
For Act II Scene 1 the stage is still split: on the left is Lucia's bedroom and on the right is her bathroom. Privacy isn't a feature here. Lucia gets suddenly out of bed and runs to the bathroom to throw up. Ah. She is pregnant.
Brother comes in and whines about his situation. The time is spent trying to persuade Lucia to marry Arturo. Since they know about her exchange of letters with Edgardo, they have intercepted everything and created fakes. There is now a second ghost inside the castle whom we presume is Lucia's recently deceased mother. Again only Lucia seems to see her. They interact. Does this mean Lucia is mad from the beginning?
Arturo, Lucia, Enrico, Raimondo
Arturo has arrived and after much arguing, Lucia signs the marriage contract. Then suddenly Edgardo arrives. At first he and Lucia mime happiness and information about her pregnancy. Then Enrico shows him she has signed the marriage contract with Arturo, and Edgardo is enraged. He takes back his ring and storms out.
Act III Scene 1 the scene we normally see here is on the right, while on the left is Lucia's bridal chamber with her new husband. She seems playful, encouraging him to undress her while she undresses him, something she seems to show great skill at. Eventually she binds and gags him on the bed. She stabs him in the middle of the chest, something that is generally fatal, but then he jumps up and starts running around the room. The maid ends up strangling him. Remember Lucia still has to sing the mad scene.
The stress is too much for Lucia and she miscarries her baby. Blood is everywhere.
Scene 2 is in a room with a pool table where the men are celebrating. On the left people are cleaning up the dead body. Then begins the mad scene "Il dolce suono." The words are acted out. When she sings to Edgardo, a ghost form of him appears. The fountain ghost also appears, and mother is on the other side, trying to comfort Lucia. The living characters still don't see the ghosts. Lucia tells Edgardo they can marry now. The glass harmonica enhances the eeriness of the scene.
There is too much business for Diana to result in a particularly well sung mad scene, but it is by far the maddest.
Scene 3 has the real Edgardo back at the fountain. He sings "Tombe degli avi miei" while on the right Lucia commits suicide in the bath. When the men come to tell Edgardo Lucia is dying, he runs off to join her in death. He sings "Tu che a Dio spiegasti l'ali" and cuts his own throat.
Suddenly everyone else sees the fountain ghost.
This is sort of unfair to Diana. Charles has far less to do and sings marvelously.
Revivals of productions don't usually involve very much rehearsal. In Vienna I've heard there is none at all. Maybe they take a walk around the set for a few minutes. I don't see how anything like that is possible here.
If I want the production to explain the opera, that is certainly what happens here. It is time to meditate on the value of ambiguity.
Footnote. It is now common operatic practice to include rooms at the side of the stage that extend the action well beyond the confines of a single scene. Some examples.
Jonas Kaufmann's Lohengrin in Munich included a small room at the side where Lohengrin sometimes slept, sometimes worked with his tools. This was obvious in house but does not appear in the DVD at all.
In the well known Nozze di Figaro from ROH with Erwin Schrott we see the small room where Figaro and Susannah are to live, but the stage is huge and shows a large hall where servants come and go. None of these servants have lines in the opera.
Written on Skin shows rooms to the sides where much of the action takes place.
In Jaroussky's Alcina there are rooms at the side of the stage. When Alcina leaves the bedroom, her hair loses its curl and she ages many years.