conclude that any part of a production is outstanding of necessity
implies that other parts are not. So it is here. The singing
and acting of Stefania Bonfadelli
as Lucia and of Marcelo Álvarez as Edgardo are outstanding.
second introductory generalisation is that if a part of the
production causes you to think about it whilst the performance
is in progress, then that part is obtrusive. So it is here. The stage settings include overlapping
or meeting side-screens or flats with rising and lowering screens
providing opportunities for openings in the sets. These, whilst
mentally stimulating, are distracting – particularly when, very
cleverly, the opening ‘moves’ across stage during a scene –
or to be precise as the scene progresses it is noted in different
is a ‘one set fits all’ with the aforesaid screens and the odd
table and chair. The wind-bent tree on a (rocky?) outcrop strewn
with flowers/heather provides opportunities for striking pictorial
images which are taken to the full but from which the fountain
is missing. That leaves Regnava nel silenzio
somewhat less poignant because Lucia must be describing what
she saw elsewhere rather that on the spot where the tale is
her opening scene Bonfadelli skips
about the set in carefree if highly strung mode. Her facial
expressions throughout are striking: from the wide-eyed fearful
wonder of Regnava nel silenzio through affronted
repulsion in Il pallor funesto,
orrendo and on to an insanity which commands sympathy
and understanding in its carefully moderated wildness. And can
she sing as well? Yes, she certainly can. Maybe there is a hint
of effort in the two stratospheric moments but everywhere else
she makes it all seem quite easy: word clarity, notes middled,
clear coloratura without glissando, here sharply delivered phrases,
there a romantic legato and finally vocal ‘playing’ with the
just occasionally the orchestral tempo seemed slow, with one
or two moments when all are ‘standing waiting’, the joy for me was that our otherwise
excellent conductor never tried to set up a competition with
the singers. He understands perfectly the role of the orchestra
to complement the singers having set up their scenes for them.
After a slightly hesitant start excellent support followed.
Frontali sings Enrico. The more
I see and hear this role and read translations of the libretto
(my Italian is nowhere near good enough to read an original)
the more I think that it is a difficult role for vocal display.
Enrico spends most of the opera in
a temper about something: his waned power; the existence of
his sister’s lover; her failure to be overjoyed at the prospect
of marrying Arturo; Egardo’s arrival;
the meeting to arrange the duel. It does not leave much else:
fearful before meeting Lucia and then failed persuasiveness.
Even his momentary remorse in the wedding scene quickly evaporates
into rage or anger. Therefore is it surprising that this role
is often sung forte with little variation? So it is here and
on other recordings. Frontali scowls and vocally castigates all and sundry: and
does it well but there is not a lot more to it. Except perhaps
his acting, no doubt as directed, which for the most part is
unexceptional save for two points: first, would he really be
so “hands on” with Lucia when trying to persuade her of the
necessity for her betrothal to Arturo; and second, would he
really kick aside the wedding contract, upon which his future
depends, which lands at his feet after Edgardo
has swept it from the table?
Edgardo’s role gives much greater opportunities
which Álvarez accepts and despatches
with verve and aplomb. Vocally reminiscent
of Pavarotti? Well, yes and there is nothing wrong with
that. Álvarez is perhaps deeper in
tone if not quite the smoothie. He
nails every note and delivers emotional strength and colouring.
as Raimondo is described in the accompanying
leaflet as “Lucia’s teacher and confidant”. That does not sit
comfortably with his verbal (not physical, in this production)
interruption of the sword fight with the reference to respecting
God’s majesty in him and his wearing clerical apparel. A
small but curious point. However, the nub is that I do
not think that Palazzi has either
the physical presence or vocal gravitas to fill the role; adequate
but no more.
is really a cameo role sung here with a somewhat harsh timbre
but acted with a diffident air of elegant superiority by Cristiano
Olivieri. Alisa and Normanno are
played and sung competently by Maria Castelli
and Giovanni Maini respectively.
choral opening of the search is set at night, with a mix of
costumes: the musket-bearing uniformed; the night-shirted and
capped; and the fully dressed. Odd because of their later line “what a day”. Giorno not notte.
They sing with a good legato even if one is distracted by the
rising and lowering screens leaving their head and shoulders
visible only in Il tuo dubbio è ormai certeza. In later scenes, apart from the dancing for the
wedding celebration, the chorus seems physically and vocally
subdued with little animation.
those several reservations, is this DVD worth the money? Answer:
yes it is. Parts may be undistinguished,
parts even distracting or inconsistent, but the vocal and acting
strengths of Bonfadelli alone justify
the purchase. Throw in Álvarez and
the excellent orchestral support and there is nothing to debate.
Worth the money indeed.