Lucia di Lammermoor, Opera Holland Park, OHP, June 2012Posted on 8 June 2012
The new Holland Park season opened on a blustery cool evening, just right for the Scottish setting of Donizetti’s Lucia. Its plot, based on a novel by Walter Scott, is absolutely up to the minute in view of the government’s recent proclamation making forced marriage illegal, and costumes were appropriately modern.
These omens turned out well, and the straightforward production by Olivia Fuchs allowed our concentration to dwell on the main characters and their interactions. Jamie Vartan’s designs, which included excellent costumes, helped keep the focus on the principals by having frames of wire mesh somewhat obscuring the chorus most of the time, and the movement, directed by Mandy Demetriou, was very well done, as was the placing of the various performers.
The singing was terrific. Russian soprano Elvira Fatykhova sang Lucia with great sensitivity and lovely top notes, giving us a heroine who should live and be happy rather than be destroyed by the machinations of her own brother Enrico, aided and abetted by the wretched Normanno. David Stephenson sang a fine Enrico, and his acting was superb. Here was a rather nasty fellow, with a frisson of physical attraction for his sister, gripping her upper arms in Act I and trying to make her feel guilty. And for why? Because he wants to compel her into an expedient marriage to restore the family fortunes, while she loves Edgardo, whom he hates. Aldo di Toro sang grippingly as Edgardo, portraying an attractive sympathetic man, and the duet between him and Enrico at the start of Act III was superbly done.
Good stage presence from Keel Watson as the chaplain Raimondo, whose condemnation of Normanno towards the end of Act III was powerfully sung, and Nicholas Ransley made a fine Normanno, particularly in his interactions with Enrico in Act I.
This was a strong team performance of Lucia, held together with great energy by Stuart Stratford conducting the City of London Sinfonia. Indeed the players needed energy to keep out the cold, and I counted five woolly hats in the orchestra pit!
Another triumph for Holland Park, so here’s hoping the season will continue as well as it has started.
Performances of Lucia continue until June 30 — click here for details.