LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR
Saturday, April 25, 8:00 PM
Sunday, April 26, 3:00 PM
Main Stage | Staller Center for the Arts
Free pre-concert lecture with Keith Johnston one hour before each performance.
The Stony Brook Opera experiments with a semi-staged concert performance of Donizetti’s beloved bel canto masterpiece Lucia di Lammermoor in two performances: the first on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 8 p.m. and the second on Sunday, April 26, 2015 at 3 p.m., both at the Staller Center Main Stage at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY. Admission is $20 general, and $15 senior citizens and students.
By producing the opera in a semi-staged concert form, Stony Brook Opera is following recent trends in numerous regional American opera companies and symphony orchestras. In the New York Times edition of June 13, 2014, music critic Zachary Wolfe wrote “I’ve attended, across the country, a flurry of examples of what has come to be called semi-staged or staged-concert opera, a hybrid way of presenting the art form that has grown more popular as the economics of the art form have grown more challenging.” In the April 2015 issue of Opera News, Editor in Chief F. Paul Driscoll noted, “What is striking these days is that an increasing number of symphony orchestras are adding opera to their programming mix.”
The libretto of Lucia di Lammermoor, by Salvadore Cammarano (who also penned the libretto of Verdi’s Il trovatore) is based upon Sir Walter Scott’s famous novel The Bride of Lammermoor. Like many tragic operas of the time, the plot hinges upon a hopeless conflict between the personal feelings of the principal characters and the political and or social demands of the society in which they live. In this case, the leading soprano, Lucia, loves a young man (Edgardo, the leading tenor) of a family with which her own is in a bitter feud. Her cruel brother, who has lost his political influence because of the Scottish Royal succession, forces her to marry a man, Arturo Bucklaw, who can help to restore his fortunes. Edgardo returns from France to interrupt the wedding ceremony, and believing her unfaithful, gives her back his engagement ring and demands hers as well. Lucia’s brother, the leading baritone Enrico, challenges Edgardo to a duel to avenge the offence to his family. When Lucia’s new husband Arturo takes her to their wedding bed, she stabs him to death and goes mad in a heart-breaking scene that is one of the most celebrated soprano arias in the history of opera. When Edgardo later appears for the duel with Enrico, he learns that Lucia has died. Unable to face life without her, he stabs himself and dies.
Lucia di Lammermoor was enormously successful and popular on the Italian circuit from the time of its premiere in 1835 on, and it was no less successful in the revision that Donizetti prepared in 1839 for Paris with a French text, as Lucie de Lammermoor. The Italian version has remained a great favorite of opera audiences up to the present day.
Stony Brook’s production will be based on the new critical edition of the opera that restores significant details that have been omitted over the many years since the composer’s death. “This edition restores Donizetti’s original ideas, and the effect, for me, is similar to the restoration of Michelangelo’s frescos on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, after which the painter’s glorious colors finally shone forth in full splendor, as they did when he painted them,” says David Lawton, artistic director of the Stony Brook Opera who will also conduct both Stony Brook performances.
Starring in the Stony Brook production are soprano Jennifer Sung as Lucia, tenor David Guzman as Edgardo, and baritone Joseph Han as Enrico. Mezzo soprano Kristin Starkey will sing the role of Alisa, and tenor Christopher Reames that of Arturo. All of these young singers are already active in regional opera companies, and participate in national and international vocal competitions. Two guest artists, bass Charles Temkey as Raimondo, and tenor Chad Kranak as Normanno, round out the accomplished cast for this production.
The Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra will be on stage in Stony Brook’s performance, with the chorus behind them on risers. The performance, semi-staged, will include theatrical lighting, minimal props and furniture, and costume pieces. The opera will be sung in the original Italian language, with projected titles in English. Brenda Harris, a leading soprano in American opera companies and artist-in-residence at Stony Brook, directs the performance, with lighting design by Jeanette Yew of Stony Brook’s Department of Theater Arts.
“Part of the interest in a concert performance,” says Lawton, “is for the audience to see the orchestra in action, and understand how it interacts with the singers. This way of performing the opera permits that, at the same time that it keeps the dramatic values of the opera and the interaction between the singers in the foreground. With the projected titles, the audience will be able to understand every nuance of the drama as it unfolds in Donizetti’s glorious music.”