This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
For a version which will induce and confirm love for the opera, as well as one which embodies some remarkable achievements, this is a sure recommendation.
Lucia di Lammermoor has 11 recordings in the current catalogue, and this makes a highly distinguished twelfth. There are certain relative, or contingent, matters that render the new version remarkable (though not necessarily good!) before even a note is heard. The casting of the two leading roles is, on the face of it, extraordinary. Studer: we knew her first as properly a lyric soprano but inclining towards the lyric-dramatic, with the more or less appropriate Wagnerian roles coming into her repertoire one by one. She has recently recorded La traviata (DG, 11/92).
Well, several lyric sopranos without well-known expertise in coloratura have done that. But Lucia! Then Domingo. Here too is a singer with Wagnerian inclinations, and the most famous Otello of his time. But it is not just a fussy or faddish connoisseurship that sees such roles as requiring a tenor of quite a different type from the Edgardo of Lucia di Lammermoor. When Martinelli sang the role at Ravinia, still years away from his Otello, critics recognized the achievement: ''A vocal stunt and a taxing one excellently done. Doubtless it gave him great inner satisfaction to prove to himself, as well as to the audience, that he could still command the light poise.'' 'Vocal stunt' seems an ignoble phrase, but then in those days they couldn't bring themselves to take Lucia (or Donizetti) very seriously. These 11 recordings show how times have changed, and this, the twelfth, shows exactly why the opera has survived so triumphantly.
In the first place, it is a thorough composition, with finely flavoured orchestration; and that is brought out very well here, with particularly fine playing by the horns, so important in this score. It has a seemingly inexhaustible supply of melody, including some excellent choruses, sung with spirit and good tone (no wobblers among them) by the Ambrosians. It is genuinely dramatic, as long as the singers choose to involve themselves, as on the whole they do, though Ramey still cannot seem to get the drama into his voice, and his account of death in the wedding scene conveys no emotion through the tone. Then there are the leading roles, rich in dramatic as in vocal opportunities. Studer presents, I would say, a Lucia of genuine pathos without quite the stature of a tragic figure. If she has seen the importance of ''Regnava nel silenzio'' in the psychology of the character, she doesn't show it: the story is not made vivid and actual— as, in the Mad Scene her cry ''Ecco il ministro!'' is. But she sings with great beauty and accomplishment. Domingo's achievement is, to my mind, in some ways greater. Perhaps ''light poise'' is not a phrase that would come to mind, but sample the breadth and smoothness of his singing in ''Verranno a te'', the lyric restraint of the often-abused ''Fra poco a me'', and the brightness of true tenor tone (no baritonal tinge) used throughout.
A weakness is the dully projected tone of Juan Pons's Enrico; often rough in style too. A strength, if a minor one, is the excellent Alisa of Jennifer Larmore. Ion Marin takes the fast choruses very fast and fails to give ''Oh, qual funesto avvenimento'' its proper breadth of lamentation. Bonynge, in the recent Teldec recording with Gruberova and Shicoff, is better at that. But in general, this new recording is the more satisfying. The merits of Sutherland (two recordings) and Callas (three) are well-known, and obviously nothing replaces them. A full comparative survey is beyond the present scope, but for a version which will induce and confirm love for the opera, as well as one which embodies some remarkable achievements, this is a sure recommendation.
-- Gramophone [4/1993]
Works on This Recording
Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti
Cheryl Studer (Soprano),
Placido Domingo (Tenor),
Juan Pons (Baritone),
Samuel Ramey (Bass),
Fernando De La Mora (Tenor),
Jennifer Larmore (Mezzo Soprano),
Anthony Laciura (Tenor)
London Symphony Orchestra,
Ambrosian Opera Chorus
Written: 1835; Italy
Date of Recording: 08/1990
Venue: St John's Cathedral, London
Length: 138 Minutes 14 Secs.
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