ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For its final offering of the season Opera Southwest, this year’s recipient of the Bravo Award for Arts Organization, takes on Donizetti’s musical treatment of Sir Walter Scott’s novel “Bride of Lammermoor.” One of the most popular of all Italian tragic operas, “Lucia di Lammermoor” is replete with characteristic melody, offering roles only those of the highest vocal caliber should attempt.
Baritone Peter Lindskoog immediately sets the bar for vocal excellence that defines this production. A veteran of several past OSW productions, Lindskoog dominates the stage in the first scene both with a stentorian voice and autocratic stage presence, as Lucia’s bully brother Enrico.
Two years ago Floridian soprano Jane Reddinggave us ample demonstration of her vocal prowess when she sang Gilda in the OSW staging of “Rigoletto.” Anyone who heard her then could have no doubt of her ability to take on the title role here with its considerable challenges. In the first act she delivers Quando, rapito in estasi (When enraptured in ecstasy) in warm, smooth tones with the sincerely naÃ¯ve charm of hopeful young love.
But that mood cannot obtain for long. Intimidated by her brother into marrying a man she doesn’t love, while believing her true lover to have abandoned her, Lucia eventually becomes unhinged. Someone once said that Italian opera is half art, half sport. Lucia’s mad scene in the third act is precisely that. The amazing leaps and roulades coupled with sustained high tones are truly an athletic feat, mimicking the voice in her head which we hear as a flute (Carla Beauchamp), cushioned by a harp (Lynn Gorman-De Velder). Marry that to beautifully sculpted lines dripping with a pathetic insanity, and Redding creates the theatrical magic that only opera can deliver. Let’s put this into proper perspective. Such vocal capabilities are a world beyond those of the most talented pop singers such as a Barbara Streisand or a Linda Ronstadt.
The second act sextet is, not surprising, a highlight of the production just as the melody is one of the most recognizable in all of opera repertoire.
John Pickleas Lucia’s doomed lover Edgardo, has the final word. At the tomb of his ancestors, having been cheated of both his birthright and Lucia, he resigns himself to his own death. Pickle’s ringing tenor pervades the entire scene but his aria Tombe degl’avi miei is the crown jewel.
The excellent OSW chorus adds significantly to the spectacle, filling the stage of the KiMo Theatre notably in the third act, as the joyous wedding celebration quickly turns to black when Raimondo (Bradley Williard) fervidly tells of Lucia’s mad state.
Traditionally staged with an array of stunning period costumes, the lighting design by John Malolepsyis particularly arresting in both color and texture, painstakingly enhancing each emotional sequence.
Guest conductor Michael Recchiuti lends a firm hand to this stunning new production.
“Lucia di Lammermoor” repeats at 8 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the KiMo Theatre. Call 243-0591 for tickets.