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Donizetti: Lucia Di Lammermoor / Armiliato, Netrebko, Beczala

Release Date: 11/10/2009 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 001357309  
Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Anna NetrebkoPiotr BeczalaMariusz Kwiecien
Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera ChorusMetropolitan Opera Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Anna Netrebko returns to the stage in the unforgettable performance of Donizetti’s Lucia Di Lammermoor!

This DVD release was originally broadcast live in HD from The Met on February 7, 2009. In addition to Netrebko’s spectacular performance, Mariusz Kwiecien’s Enrico delivers theatrical truth with a matchless baritone with the luster of polished mahogany.

This Met performance of director Mary Zimmerman’s “imaginative staging…and nuanced portrayals” (Times) is a tour de force of music and theatricality.

Having dazzled opera audiences from St. Petersburg to L.A. as Lucia, Anna Netrebko triumphantly returns to the Metropolitan Opera in this touchstone coloratura role!

Read more Specifications:
Number of discs: 2 DVDs
Recorded: The Metropolitan Opera, February 2009
Subtitles: Italian, German, English, French, Spanish, Chinese
Picture Format: 16:9
Color Sound Format: PCM Stereo & DTS 5.1 Surround incl.

Extra material:
Natalie Dessay interviews:
• Anna Netrebko & Piotr Beczala
• Paul Masck (MET Technical Department)
• Mary Zimmerman (Stage Production)
• Marco Armiliato
• Ildar Abdrazakov & Mariusz Kwiecien
• Paul Masck & Paul Donahue (MET Technical Department)
• Anna Netrebko


The Met's "new" production of Lucia di Lammermoor, which happily replaced Francesca Zambello's catastrophic staging (coffins everywhere) late in 2007, has been updated by Mary Zimmerman to a ghost-filled Victorian era. The ghosts are both of family histories and manifestations of a disturbed mind. We see the ghost as Lucia describes it in her first aria, and it is the ghost of Lucia that hands the dagger to Edgardo in his final scene and helps him commit suicide. The latter is too literal, and frankly makes no sense, but it's nicely eerie.

In Zimmerman's reading, Lucia is emotionally fragile from the beginning: it doesn't take much to push her over the edge. She stages the sextet in the second act as a photo shoot: what could that mean? Why would everyone sit still while the bride is being slandered? Details, details.

Daniel Ostling's sets are nicely atmospheric: crags and dead trees for the first act; a Victorian ballroom for the second; and a mostly empty stage with only a grand, curved staircase and balcony backed entirely with a huge, surreal, gray-white moon for the Mad Scene. Mara Blumenfeld's costumes--high boots and dresses buttoned to the neck--are wonderfully oppressive. The combination of real and surreal works well; it's an effective production.

The enormous Met stage dwarfed the tiny Natalie Dessay when the production first opened and actually helped the interpretation--birdlike and nervous, she radiated instability. When Diana Damrau took over the following season, her Lucia was more solid at first and did not become loony and murderous until the second act. Months later the bill was filled, with much anticipation, by Anna Netrebko, and it was recorded: it is from these performances that this DVD comes. (Rolando Villazon was supposed to be the Edgardo, but his vocal crisis forced him to withdraw.)

As it turns out, Netrebko, the biggest draw, is the least interesting of the three. She looks wonderful, of course, and arguably has the most beautiful tone of the trio. But she has neither Dessay's intensity nor Damrau's technical assurance or control over dynamics. And it really is time to acknowledge that she is not suited to coloratura roles. Her passage-work is approximate and at times downright sloppy; the runs in the Mad Scene, after her cries of "Edgardo! Edgardo!", would not get her a diploma from a conservatory. And though she gets the D-naturals and an occasional E-flat, it's touch-and-go, and she sings sharp elsewhere. Please understand--I am a fan of hers and would not trade her Violetta for (almost) anyone's, and her charisma remains staggering; but repeated listenings and viewings do not flatter her in this role.

Edgardo is Piotr Beczala. Ardent, musically and dramatically alert, with easy top and intelligent phrasing, he impresses throughout. Loving and understanding in the first act, driven to distraction in the second, enraged in the Wolf's Crag Scene (and pushed to his vocal limits, very excitingly), and touching in his final double aria, he's a great asset to the production.

I'll say the same for Mariusz Kwiecien, whose bright baritone is unflawed, though the characterization is generic villain. No matter who sings Raimondo bores me, but Ildar Abdrazakov at least sounds good. The rest of the cast is up to par. Marco Armiliato leads the superb Met forces with verve and sensitivity, slowing down for Netrebko when he's afraid her bloody veil might get caught in her fiorature.

Bonus material--17 minutes of it--finds Natalie Dessay backstage interviewing all four principals, the director, and some technicians, each for about two minutes each, offering no insights. Picture and sound are ideal and subtitles are in all major European languages and Chinese.

If you're searching for a Lucia on DVD and are not obsessed with Netrebko under all circumstances, the 1982 Met performance with Sutherland (just past her prime but still formidable) and Kraus (ditto) is a good choice (not the 1986 performance from Australia with a mediocre group of co-stars); but even better is a restored 1967 taping from Tokyo with Renata Scotto and Carlo Bergonzi on VAI which is a knockout.

--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Anna Netrebko (Soprano), Piotr Beczala (Tenor), Mariusz Kwiecien (Baritone)
Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Italy 

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