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Where's the Bel Canto?
on 15 February 2015
Although staging an opera outside the time period for which it was originally composed can work very well without causing any annoyance, this is not the case with this production, chiefly due to two very silly and unnecessary innovations. One of these was the taking of photographs at the wedding and the other was the administering of an injection into Lucia's arm to calm her down, neither of which procedures had been invented in the century earlier period intended by Donizetti. Ridiculous innovations such as this stick out like a sore thumb and ruin even the best of productions simply because they make such a deep impression on the mind. It's as if someone from the New York Times has been sent to take a photograph to be published in the next day's edition.
It also needs to be realised that this work was composed by Donizetti as a top grade, bel canto work requiring matchless bel canto singing, which we don't get here. Although Anna Netbreko performs well in the lead role of Lucia, she does so in her own style rather than in the true bel canto style, which is very disappointing for those of us who have special enthusiasm for that style. We may not be musical experts, but we listen to so much opera that we become experienced in knowing how things should be done. It's almost as if Ms Nebreko has taken over, determined to do things her way, never mind the rest. It's almost as if she's not relaxed enough and is trying to overdo things.
For these reasons, two stars have gone already. Sadly, if the lead role is 'de-belcanto-ised', the whole work is ruined no matter how good either the other performers or the orchestration are. Piotr Beczala is certainly of the best in the role of Edgardo, but we don't have the right chemistry between him and Anna Netrebko (Luici). In fact, all the other singers are top quality as is the orchestration. It's a high quality Blu-Ray recording with excellent sound quality, a fact which inevitably enhances the weak points as well as the strong ones and yet another reason for getting the bel canto right. Happily, some viewers will not mind the flash photography and the lack of bona fide bel canto, but I certainly do, which means a generous three stars from me and one star for him and I don't blame him for that. Deary me!