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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Work of Art, Labour of Love
Being not so much of a `less is more-opera' kind of guy, (actually I am a `less is bore-opera' kind of guy), I quite liked this lavish Lucia and was soon won over by the believable stage direction. The production, by Mary Zimmerman, was broadcasted in HD and has now been put on disc. Originally a theatre director, Zimmerman often turns to opera. She placed the action of...
Published 14 months ago by faun070

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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A lifeless let-down
Although the singing and orchestral playing in this production are fine ("bel canto" obsessives may disagree but they're welcome) the overall effect is very disappointing. Director Mary Zimmerman tries to avoid the melodramatic excesses of Donizetti's old war horse but, by failing to create a believable alternative, squeezes all the life out of the opera. As played by...
Published on 9 Dec 2011 by "Joseph Kermer"


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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Work of Art, Labour of Love, 3 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
Being not so much of a `less is more-opera' kind of guy, (actually I am a `less is bore-opera' kind of guy), I quite liked this lavish Lucia and was soon won over by the believable stage direction. The production, by Mary Zimmerman, was broadcasted in HD and has now been put on disc. Originally a theatre director, Zimmerman often turns to opera. She placed the action of the Scottish family feud in the second half of the 19th century, some 200 years on from the libretto's era. The opening scene with the hunters is given and lit not unlike a crime series, which works. The second scene, with Lucia's first appearance, has the ominous forest unchanged (by the way, bravo for Mariko Anraku on the harp!). The fountain structure sits in a dilapidated corner. It's all Wuthering Heights, with a `materialized' ghost, rather than one just sung about. This means a more faithful approach to Sir Walter Scott's novel, as Zimmerman explains in the short but informative extras on the disc. She makes an interesting remark about the ghost taking revenge on Edgardo through Lucia: A second ghost, at the opera's end, is Lucia's spirit. In an act of ambiguity she ensures Edgardo uses his knife on himself, making her an instrument of the family feud as well as claiming him for herself in the hereafter. The scene with Enrico, whose machinations of course lead to his sister's demise, is full of tension, possibly with a hint of the sexual (the incestuous touch is experiencing a success tour among current opera productions, e. g. in Manon Lescaut). The sextet with all the diverging emotions is played out while a photographer is trying to arrange a family portrait. It should have bothered me but it simply didn't; the photograph symbolizes progress which the family, clinging to its petty feud, cannot be part of. The huge staircase on which the Mad Scene was played out could have been backed by a more naturalistic decor, in line with the rest of the production.
Naturally, the MET wields casts consisting of the world's best singers, and Lucia's is no exception. Anna Netrebko plays her effete character well. She is already slightly unhinged during the Fountain Scene. When Enrico produces the forged letter about Edgardo's infidelity she snaps right away, and from then on her eyes lose any vitality they might have radiated before. Despite her admirable account of the difficult part, the Russian soprano appears to have lost some of the vocal agility from her days as Glinka's Ludmila. And here I cannot refrain from paying homage to Dame Joan Sutherland's Lucia, in my book still unchallenged. Do I sound older than my 48 years in regretting not having been present at her historical 1959 Covent Garden debut? The men surrounding Netrebko are no less than magnificent: The ardent Piotr Beczala (replacing Rolando Villazón at short notice as Edgardo) sung mellifluously, as did Ildar Abdrazakov, who tuned down his forceful bass to suit the careful Raimondo. Mariusz Kwiecien, as the make-things-happen Enrico, boasts a flexible baritone voice and uses it to colour the vehement lines of his Lord Ashton. The voices blend beautifully together too, conductor Marco Armiliato brings out all the subtleties of Donizetti's lovely score, and for once the camerawork leaves nothing to be desired, capturing all the emotions from the most ideal angle(s). On the Blu-ray disc: The sound is as one might expect from this product. The picture comes with some (very) sparse hazy shots, as if someone forgot to brush these up, but to me this feels negligible. Honestly, this is a work of art and a labour of love we should feel happy about - and that at a little over twelve quid.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best "Lucia" ever, 25 July 2010
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I'm not a great fan of opera - but I AM a great fan of Anna Netrebko. Having suffered through the Joan Sutherland version of this opera some time ago (in which the entire production revolved round Dame Joanie being a complete diva - as well as massively unsuitable to the role physically and age-wise), this production from the Met is wonderfully refreshing. Not only does Netrebko look completely right, but she forms part of a wonderful team of singers all working together to form a completely harmonious whole. And of course, she sings like an angel - the famous "mad scene" is spectacular; done simply and without overt flashiness.

What is extremely clever about this production is that the director has gone back to the original source - the Walter Scott novel "The Bride of Lammermoor" - and invested the production with psychological depth, really thinking about the story and the words of the opera, rather than just chucking it on the stage as a vehicle. This depth means that the whole story hangs together extremely well, and that there is a reason for why people do particular things. What people are singing to each other really makes sense for the first time ever.

I'm not going to spoil the plot but there is a real coup de theatre in the final scene - one which I believe has never been used in this opera before - and which is built up to throughout the entire production. So clever is is that one wonders why nobody has ever thought of it before. The rest of the staging is also very clever, as well as visually impressive - one particular scene, in which a sextette of singers builds to become a huge chorus (and which demands that people stand stock-still on the stage) is presented in a very clever way which "explains" why everyone is standing so still - they are being composed into a group photograph by a photographer, who has arrived at the castle to take wedding portraits. This being the late Victorian period, of course the technical demands of slow exposure photography mean that people MUST stand still for some time. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant staging!

My only carp about this DVD is that the solo bows by the principals at the very end are ommitted; I would really like to have heard the roar as Netrebko took her final solo bow. A wonderful, engaging production with a truly top notch cast.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 6 Aug 2013
By 
Adrian Drew (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
Despite the negative reviews I found this production both enjoyable and very well sung. Okay the "photographer' sequence is rather ill judged but it sure didn't spoil the overall experience for me as much as it has for others. Having sat through so many really weak and contrived "concept" performances I would have been more than happy to have seen this version on stage. I also purchased it for a bargain price - which always helps!
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A lifeless let-down, 9 Dec 2011
Although the singing and orchestral playing in this production are fine ("bel canto" obsessives may disagree but they're welcome) the overall effect is very disappointing. Director Mary Zimmerman tries to avoid the melodramatic excesses of Donizetti's old war horse but, by failing to create a believable alternative, squeezes all the life out of the opera. As played by Anna Netrebko, Lucia is so buttoned up and contained (literally in extremely unflattering costumes, which make her look anything but girlish) as to be of no serious interest as a character and one might suspect Netrebko of merely going through the motions were it not for the fact that her successor in the role - Natalie Dessay - has since been criticised for exactly the same failing. As both these singers are also very fine actresses, it is clear that they were following Zimmermann's orders in failing outwardly to communicate Lucia's gradual descent into breakdown and madness. This lifeless restraint is also a problem for the chorus. When Lucia appears in her bloodstained dress, their lack of reaction is quite ridiculous: you would think she had merely committed a social faux pas. The leading men are more energetic but Beczala's Edgardo does not remotely cut it as an ardent young lover; indeed, there is practically no sexual chemistry between him and Netrebko. Kwicien, on the other hand, plays Enrico as a pantomime villain and only wants a cork moustache to complete the picture. He seems to belong in an altogether different production, as do the ridiculous ghosts.

Ironically, Zimmerman's failure to get the right kind of acting out of her performers results in an old- fashioned "stand and deliver" approach to the big set-pieces that she can't really have intended and that reduces the opera to nothing more than a concert in fancy dress. Not that this worries the self-indulgent Met audience, who yell and applaud at every possible opportunity - even in the middle of the "mad" scene - and clearly have no interest in opera as drama.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly reasonable production, 2 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
This is a perfectly good production. It has its weak points (some of the directorial gimmicks distract from the action, but not all that badly; some of the supporting roles could have a bit more oomph) but on the whole this is a slick and fairly middle of the road production. Nothing is likely to offend unless you are the sort of opera bore who attends operas with the sole intent of comparing them with an (in reality imaginary) golden age from some time in the past. Ultimately, I think the production could have done with a bit more fizz and vim. Like most of Donizetti's work, the music is glorious and the plot is daft, but that is no reason to apologise for the silliness of the plot by damping down the ardour. If you want a blu ray of Lucia in your collection (and at the time of writing this it's at a reasonable price) I would say get this without qualms.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anna Netrebko is hard to beat!, 20 Nov 2013
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Superb command of voice and perfect acting-performance - beautiful production - artistic conductor - a joy to watch! Hope the MET will continue to present its opera performances on DVD for me to buy. I'm now waiting for Eugene Onegin with A. Netrebko as Tatiana.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing "LUCIA", 2 Sep 2011
A production of Lucia that I thought would not work but does, extremely well, apart from the Wedding Photographer although that was only a minor hiccup. A wonderful show with the male cast having the edge overall. Well worth adding to your collection.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lucia di Lammermoor - Ana Netrebko, 22 May 2014
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Lucia is one of my favorite opera. Ana is one of my favorite singer. Sound is excellent ! Whole performance is excellent !
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9 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing ever too obvious for the Met, 7 Nov 2010
I hope I never meet the director of this.

I can live with taking out the heather and the tartan and even (perhaps) with moving the action to the Victorian era, though it does drive a bus through the plot, but the extra bits of "stagecraft" added here (alluded to in Mr Bowes' review) are simply a joke.

The addition of the stagey Victorian photographer, ruining one of the big vocal set-pieces, together with making the tragic ghost of the early scene by the fountain a very solid (if chalky white from head to foot) figure -- not to mention the ludicrous later echo of this --actually produced snorts of laughter when we watched it.

Netrebko has sung better. She is a beauty, certainly, which not every soprano can be, but it shouldn't blind anyone to the imperfections. And Beczala seems a bit overwhelmed, though his final scene probably gives a better impression of what he can do.

I recommend instead the La Scala performance from the 1990s with Mirella Devia, who actually is a bel canto soprano and sings the notes as they were scored. Her Edgardo was the very competent Vincenzo La Scola. The production and staging, though very dark -- this is a tragedy and no mistake -- are spot on. Supporting cast strong.

There is also a pared down version from Genoa's Teatro Carlo Felice (2003), directed by Graham Vick (previously of Glyndebourne and Scottish Opera). It stars Argentine tenor Marcelo Alvarez and Stefania Bonfadelli, both then early in their careers. Look out for the recurring rose theme. (It was a Rai 3 television broadcast and the DVD label is TDK.)
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New and refreshing approacxh to an old warhorse!, 3 May 2013
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Mr. Mc Warwick (UK) - See all my reviews
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I simply adored this version which , being moved into the Victorian Era makes the woman treated badly even more poignant. It didnt even need to be in Scotland as the original story portrays. The wealthy land owner feud was the very essence. I can thoroughly reccomend!
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Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free]
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