The Israeli Opera production of Lucia di Lammermoor was for me a wonderful opportunity to meet again not only with one of my preferred scores in the opera repertory but with the very first opera I have seen on stage.This must have been 46-47 years ago at the opera in Bucharest, I should ask my mother if she remembers the performance, but I certainly did not forget it, as it was the beginning of a life-long love story for the genre, for the music received directly from singers and orchestra, for the passion, emotions, joy and sorrow that can be lived only with the singers and the audience under the same roof. I had seen another performance of the opera in the 90s, and now it’s my third time. It’s wonderful music certainly, but for me it’s much more. You hardly forget a first time!



Gaetano Donizetti was at the pick of his popularity in 1835 when this opera was premiered. He was actually the most popular composer in Italy after the period of Rossini and Bellini and a couple of decades before the appearance of Verdi who will dominate the Italian opera in the second half of the 20th century. The combination of romantic drama (melodrama actually) and patriotic themes that forms the subject of the opera attracted and energized the audiences and made it at success starting with the premiere in Naples and the French version first presented in Paris in 1839. The beauty of the music made it a long term success brought back since the mid of the 20th century by great sopranos on the world stages.


(video source ioSonoCallas)


We had the chance last night to sit near a lady who had lived in New York City and had seen several versions of this opera and many other performances of the great artists of the genre. We discussed among other about Maria Callas, so I was happy to find the version of the Mad Scene sung by the greatest diva of all times, to be compared with a recent one of Anna Netrebko. This scene is a complex and dramatic area, testing the musical and dramatic qualities of the sopranos, as well as the talent to improvise and add of their own personality.


(video source coloraturafan)


The performance in Tel Aviv last night was directed by Emilio Sagi originally for the Opera House in Oviedo, Spain. An interesting decision was to cut off the performance completely the first scene in the third act, which added to the fact that the break came after the first two acts let the second part much shorter than the first one and increased the weight of the Mad Scene in the overall dramatic development. It also left the responsibility of the musical impression on the lead soprano singing Lucia which last night was Laura Claycomb – she did fine most of the time, acted very well, and had very few moments of harshness in the high notes that kept her apart a really great performance. She was seconded by the Israeli Ayala Zimbler who seems to have great qualities and I would love to see one day as Lucia. Boaz Daniel as Enrico and Francisco Corujo as Edgardo did the good jobs that I expected, with the orchestra conducted by Yishai Steckler making me regret at some moments that I did not catch one of the evenings when Daniel Oren conducted. Overall a good performance, and for reasons beyond pure nostalgia.