SCOTTISH OPERA: LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR ****
THEATRE ROYAL, GLASGOW
JOHN Doyle, in his new production of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, has given Scottish Opera a thrilling springboard out of the current mixed season and into the next. Not only does it turn Donizetti's thoroughly bel canto Italian style back to a ruggedly authentic Scottish setting appropriate to the Sir Walter Scott story, but it challenges the whole tradition of producing this stylised operatic genre.
And this was the right audience to present it to. Few dour Scots will have felt unmoved by the dark, austere setting. Its symbolism is bold and ambivalent.
The black-attired chorus is symbolically and musically indispensable but ever aware of its place as part of a virile, but mysteriously oppressive backdrop. As a result, Donizetti's showpiece arias have spacious context.
Scottish Opera's evenly matched cast goes with it all the way. Andrew Schroeder's misguided Enrico is rock-like, his henchman Normanno (Nicholas Ransley) a truly shadowy bit of work. Alan Fairs's Raimondo is stoically reliable, Sarah Pring's Alisa warm and sure-footed, while Adriano Graziani stands radiant in his brief spotlight moment as Arturo.
Central to all of this are Sally Silver and Turkish tenor Blent Bezdz, as the tragic Lucia and Edgardo. The pivotal madness scene finds Silver both dramatically and vocally convincing. Bezdz, despite signs of fatigue after his long opening sequence on Wednesday, held the stage impressively in his final suicidal act. Donizetti's rich-grained score has impetus and purpose under Julian Smith's gritty musical direction.