Notes and Editorial Reviews
Orchestra and Chorus of the Opéra National de Lyon, Evelino Pido
(Based on Walter Scott’s novel “The Bride of Lammermoor"
Recorded at: Opéra National
Picture Format: 16:9
Sound Format: LPCM stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Running Time: 140 mins
Region Code: NTSC All
Booklet Languages: GB, F, D
Recording Date: January 2002
"A fine actress with a fresh timbre and a compellingly musical command of flowing line and florid decoration, she looked terrific...Ciofi brought to mind the young Lella Cuberli’s fine recording of the piece." --www.classicstoday.com
".. we can thank the Lyon Opera for reviving the long-forgotten
French version in January 2002 and it is that production upon which this DVD is based. With Patricia Ciofi in the title role and the splendid Roberto Alagna as Edgard Ravenswood, the production was recorded for TV under Don Kent's direction, with Evelino Pido ably conducting the orchestra and chorus of the Opera National de Lyon." -- William Littler, Toronto Star, June 3, 2004
Donizetti’s opera in three acts showcases the brilliant young Italian soprano Patrizia Ciofi, alongside operatic superstar Roberto Alagna. Ciofi, who was brought in to deputise for the ailing Nathalie Dessay, establishes herself in her own right and gives a truly masterful and lyrical portrayal of Donizetti’s great heroine, in what is acknowledged to be the archetype of the romantic Italian opera.
While the opera reduces Sir Walter Scott’s complex novel to a three-person constellation and to a great extent ignores the political circumstances that are at the heart of the family feud, the desperate love story of Lucy and Edgar contains such passionate drama as to overshadow anything that has gone before.
CAST Lucie: Patrizia Ciofi
Sir Arthur: Marc Laho
Edgard Ravenswood: Roberto Alagna
Raymond: Nicolas Cavallier
Henry Ashton: Ludovic Tezier
Gilbert: Yves Saelens
Review from Classics Today:
This is a performance of Donizetti's 1839 revision for Paris of his 1835 Lucia di Lammermoor. It isn't merely a translation of the Italian: the character of Alisa, Lucia's maid, has been eliminated; Normanno is gone and has been replaced by a more villainous character named Gilbert who helps heartily with the plot to confuse and manipulate Lucia; the tessitura of the title role is a bit higher; an aria from the composer's Rosmonda d'Inghilterra is substituted for Lucia's first-act scene; the harp solo is gone; the storm before the Enrico-Edgardo confrontation has been eliminated; and the vocal line in the Mad Scene is altered. There are other, smaller changes as well. If you note that Lucia is now the lone woman in the opera (besides the chorus), her sense of isolation and subsequent insanity are even more explainable and poignant.
This is a very good if conventional show. Visually, the minimalist sets by Christian Fenouillat neither add nor detract, especially given the remarkably dim lighting--this is a dark tale, and we're reminded with every squint. Agostino Cavalca's costumes are opulent. The stage directors, Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser, pretty much keep everything natural and non-interventionist (in the time-honored, all-purpose grand opera manner), allowing the plot to unfold naturally--but their direction of the Mad Scene is superb and somewhat daring, with Lucia crawling around the floor like a wounded animal. Of course, in the person of a less accomplished singing actress than Patrizia Ciofi this might have been problematic (it was actually created for Natalie Dessay, just as fine an actress, who withdrew from the production due to illness), but here it is wonderfully effective.
Ciofi is a fabulous singer and a grand musician. The voice can take on a hard edge at the top, but so what? Right from the beginning she shades her words with meaning, her coloratura is impeccable, the high tessitura is no issue for her, and her phrasing and use of dynamics are pure bel canto. The close-ups show her face distorted on high notes, but if we have learned to tolerate Cecilia Bartoli's twitchings, this is nothing. In short--wow!--a great Lucia.
As her beloved Edgard, tenor Roberto Alagna (a bit of sharp singing aside) is ideal. He looks great and he's in superb voice: he takes the high E-flat(!) near the close of the Act 1 duet with Lucia (she's on a C while he's up there) with grace and slides off it like a champ. His behavior in Act 2 is the right combination of rage and hurt, he's potent in his duet with Henri, and his Tomb Scene is one of the most moving I've come across, with the final moments, after he wounds himself, taken deadly slowly and sung gorgeously.
As the wicked Henri, baritone Ludovic Tezier has a fine voice and sings smoothly; occasionally he overdoes the mustache twirling, and at other times--when he thinks the camera is not on him--looks really bored. The Gilbert of Yves Saelens is weak--such a villain should have more presence, not to mention voice, despite the fact that the role is all recitative--and Arturo in the person of Marc Laho is not impressive either. Chorus and orchestra play well under Evelino Pido's direction. Pido refuses to sentimentalize the score and keeps things moving swiftly; his singers take almost no alternative high endings, and this seems like a conscious choice.
Specifically regarding the video, there are too many close-ups. I realize that one of the joys of at-home watching is the elmination of the great distance between the seats and stage, but almost all video directors, including this one, Don Kent, too infrequently give us a medium-range shot so we can take in the big picture. And watching singers strain their necks on high notes is neither apealing nor necessary. The sound--stereo, Digital 5.1, or 5.1--is excellent. This Lucie is worth owning: not only is it a rarity, it's stunningly performed.
Works on This Recording
Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti
Patrizia Ciofi (Soprano),
Roberto Alagna (Tenor),
Ludovic Tézier (Baritone)
Written: 1835; Italy
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