The Met H.D. production of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, shown originally at Cinema 9 on Feb. 7, was by far the most highly integrated production on any of the other operas that they have presented so far this year. In particular, Mary Zimmerman, who produced the opera, gets a great deal of credit for the overall coherence of the production, from the set to the costumes to the actual staging. I'm looking forward to her production of La Sonnambula, because if it is anywhere near her conception for Lucia, it will be a genuine treat.
As to the singers: the replacement of the original tenor in the cast because he was ill; he was replaced by the Polish tenor, Piotr Beczala, already at the Met in the production of Eugene Onegin. He sang with true Italian flare, and its added do at with Enico at the opening of the third act was so well sung by the two that it more than justified placing it back into the score. Bravo to him for an acting and singing job of great stature.
Anna Netrebko, the Lucia, proved herself to be in the grand tradition, and deciding to leave some of the added top notes in which other sopranos have reveled, choosing instead to use these very high notes only once or twice during the evening, to the betterment of the story and the music. Never once was her performance purely a musical tour de force, and she is a gifted actress, as her entire performance demonstrated. She is certainly one of the top Lucias of the new century, and her double gifted acting and singing was gratefully received by yours truly, who has a comparable performance the first Los Angeles performance of Joan Sutherland in the title role of Lucia. Netrebko also to be commended for her complete mastery of Italianate singing.
Enrico, Lucia's brother was amazingly well sung by Mariusz Kewiecien , who has a magnificent baritone voice and a very comely appearance onstage, where he acts all of the necessities of his role brilliantly, which in this case means running the gamut from violent anger to too-late sorrow for Lucia's death. I really hope to see him again into some of these broadcasts.
Ildar Abdrazakov sang Raimondo, who is often described the cast as a chaplain. Once again he scored fantastically well, for his acting as well as for his singing. He possesses a truly dark and suave voice which can become menacing in an instance. He is tall , in fact all the males in the cast were fairly tall, and he commands the stage especially when he is singing. Bravo to him.
The balance of the main characters in the production -- Michaela Martens as Alyssa; Colin Lee as Arturo; and Michael Myers as Normanno match the quality of the rest of the cast.
The conducting of Marco Armiliato had all the necessary snap to it, and the accompaniment figures were quite nuanced and not simply repeated patterns.
It has been a very fine experience seeing opera in HD. Especially when the productions are generally of high quality, with fine voices. It is a broadening experience.
Burlington resident Dan Wolfe observes and critiques the local arts scene for the Times Sentinel. His column appears weekly.