On Sunday I saw a delayed live broadcast of Lucia de Lammermoor from the Metropolitan opera with Natalie Dussay in a role that she had made her signature. She has the bel canto voice for it and is a fine actress. The production was costumed in an early Victorian era, the set was dark and suggestive and especially beautiful in the last scene. The stage director had added a ghost and even Lucia comes back as a ghost in the last moments. It was engrossing, beautiful and heart breaking. I love Donazetti's music which makes me feel weepy.
Yesterday in my opera class we saw the Joan Sutherland production from 1983, which also has a dark set [this is a tragedy and set designers don't try to sparkle it up],the costumers were Elizabethan, therew as no ghost and Dame Joan was both a magnificent singer and a pretty good actress. Both singers' delivery of the renown "mad scene" were deeply moving and beautifully sung.
The contrast is not only set and costumes and ghosts: Dussay is a very small woman who plays vulnerability and fragility to the hilt. Dame Joan was six foot tall and hefty, there's no way she could look fragile. While the role is supposedly a very young woman of striking beauty neither had great beauty and Dussay is in her 40s, Sutherland in her 50s in this production. My head was reelling with comparisons and contrasts by yesterday evening along the magnificent music playing through my brain all evening. It was a kind of orgy of tragic beauty, I felt quite beat up at the end of the day. But in a wonderful way. I wish everyone could literally thrill to the wonder of grand opera -- it fills my experience with a wonderful richness.
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