Customer Review

10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A lifeless let-down, 9 Dec 2011
This review is from: Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor / Netrebko, Beczala, Kwiecien, Metropolitan Opera (2009) [DVD] [NTSC] (DVD)
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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Location: UK

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