Thursday, November 17, 2011
Lucia di Lammermoor at Washington National Opera
In the examination of my traffic statistics for my blog, I notice that my most popular post lately is one that describes a small portion of Sarah Coburn's career. If the events of the world of opera have any bearing upon the amount of visitors that are brought to my individual posts, it might well be stated that the present production of Gaetano Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor at the Washington National Opera. Soprano Sarah Coburn is Donizetti's mad heroine, and the remainder of the cast includes Michael Chioldi, and Saimir Pirgu. I have heard many praises of this production on Twitter from many sources, and it appears that Coburn is making quite an impression on the audiences who attend.
Philip Kennicot gives us a review of the production. Since I have not seen the production, I must rely on the written narration of another to clarify the production's idiosyncrasies and nuances that are exclusive to it. He mentions the shortcomings of the set design, which reveals itself probably most prominently in the fact that there are no doors within the walls of the flats, and this impedes the action onstage, for the chorus is rumored to find it necessary to climb through the windows. Obviously, there is some dramatic effect that is sought to be obtained in this direction and design, but Kennicot finds it more distracting than thought provoking, which seems only natural to me. While there may be some missed interpretation to be considered in that particular scene change, it is completely wasted on one who cannot focus on the important actions of the principals that inhabit the stage while they fear for safety of chorus members who might suddenly tumble through a window or who is unsuccessful in blocking the exiguous noise from the vital music that is being heard. Though the production has its flaws, this critic still appropriates acceptable marks to it for the effectiveness of its lighting and the difference of interpretation that it may inspire in opposition or dissidence to another production that a viewer may have previously witnessed. This mounting of Lucia di Lammermoor puts Lucia in a far more innocent state of being than we usually encounter in the operatic world, and it is becoming far more popular for the heroines of new productions to be envisioned as teen-aged adolescents. I have some qualms with this approach, one of which is that I think it leads to a sweeping generalization of the diverse characters that are present in opera, but this seems to create a more validated and acceptable transition for an audience into Lucia's insanity that she eventually acquires.
As for the cast's abilities, Kennicot calls the cast he saw, which featured Sarah Coburn, "compelling." He further elucidates regarding her that her voice has genuine character and all of the clarity and speed for which one could hope. I am most elated to hear such praise for this soprano, for she used to attend my university, and she was the first opera singer that I have ever seen perform. The tenor Saimir Pirgu received words of praise from our critic, as well, and he was reported to complement Coburn quite well. It would appear that there is no flaw in the vocal aspect of this piece. One piece of information that was not conveyed, which I should have been very glad to know, was whether or not the original glass harmonica orchestration was employed for the mad scene. One of the opera companies whom I follow on Twitter mentioned that they were running the production with the original orchestration, but I cannot recall if it was the Washington National Opera or otherwise. I much prefer the glass harmonica to be included by the orchestra, for it adds a new dimension to the haunting, eerie quality of the madness that we discover in Lucia.
I express my immense ingratiation to all of you for continuing to peruse my posts, and I hope that all of you are extraordinarily blessed in life. I wish everyone an Happy Thanksgiving despite your nationality, for a day of feasting in honor of giving thanks for God's providence is a commendable course no matter what nation claims your heritage.