The most famous tragedy in the romantic bel canto repertoire, Lucia di Lammermoor, is a veritable vocal and theatrical tour de force for its lead singer. To bring to life this dramatic love story in which emotions are pushed to the extreme—one need only think of Lucia’s over-the-top mad scene—the Opéra de Montréal has chosen Korean soprano Kathleen Kim for the role of Lucia and Quebec tenor Frédéric Antoun as her lover Edgardo.
“Lucia is undeniably one of the greatest female roles in the repertoire and we’re fortunate to have Kathleen Kim—who was recently hailed for her appearance at the Metropolitan Opera in New York—in the role,” says Patrick Corrigan, General Director of the Opéra de Montréal. “Our 2019-2020 season is one of the most exciting since the company’s very beginnings, and this magnificent production of Lucia di Lammermoor proves it,” states Corrigan.
THE STORY: FORCED MARRIAGE AND CRUEL BETRAYAL
In 16th century Scotland, the hatred that consumes the Ashton and Ravenswood clans claims its first victim in the passionate love of Edgardo and Lucia, sister of the sinister Enrico Ashton. But the lovers swear that nothing will get the better of their commitment to one another, as they vow to remain together. Using falsified evidence, Enrico nevertheless manages to convince Lucia that Edgardo has betrayed her, as he wants her to instead marry the man he has chosen for her, Arturo Bucklaw. Convinced of her lover’s unfaithfulness, Lucia gives in and signs the contract. Faced with the done deal, Edgardo doesn’t understand the situation and defends himself against all accusations of infidelity, accusing Lucia of having broken their promise to one another. Lucia marries Arturo but begins to lose her senses: on the wedding night, she savagely stabs the husband she detests and, descending into madness, relives her happy past before dying. Edgardo, having learned the underlying facts of the plot and its fatal consequences, stabs himself with his dagger, following Lucia to the grave.
THE WORK: VIRTUOSITY AND DRAMATIC INTENSITY
In Lucia di Lammermoor, Donizetti’s genius is manifest in the solid dramatic construction, as well as in the magnificent melodic richness. Through his music, Donizetti succeeds in perfectly depicting the characters, which have become archetypes of both bel canto and romantic Italian opera. Written in six weeks during a very prolific period in the composer’s life, Lucia di Lammermoor finely balances highly virtuosic singing with steady drama. And while the work peaks in the third act with Lucia’s famous “mad” scene—requiring great technique, flexibility, and agility on the part of the performer—Donizetti sustains the dramatic intensity through the vocal ensembles (notably, the famous sextet at the end of the second act) and choruses.
More than a few artists have immortalized the emblematic role of Lucia and have sung the demanding score Donizetti composed for his heroine—among them, Maria Callas, Nathalie Dessay, Joan Sutherland, and Anna Netrebko.
Heralded as “spectacular” by Opera News and “a revelation” by the Chicago Sun-Times, soprano Kathleen Kim sings the colossal role of Lucia alongside internationally renowned Quebec tenor Frédéric Antoun. Also featured are baritone Gregory Dahl (Enrico), bass Oleg Tsibulko (Raimondo), tenor Mario Bahg (Arturo), and bass-baritone Rocco Rupolo (Normanno). Mezzo-soprano Florence Bourget, an artist-in-residence at the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, completes the cast in the role of Alice. Italian conductor Fabrizio Ventura conducts the Orchestre Métropolitain and the Opéra de Montréal Chorus (prepared by Claude Webster). Stage direction is by Michael Cavanagh.
—Opéra de Montréal