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Last Christmas, I offered you a morally degenerate selection of operas featuring murder, suicide, incest and potential infanticide. Well, it’s a time for tradition isn’t it, so let’s have more of the same with our mince pies this year. I have also thrown in two free bouts of lyric insanity should you be stuck for a present. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

First to lose her wits is Lucia di Lammermoor, filmed at Covent Garden in 2016. I’m pleased to say that the singing had sharpened up after a shaky first night. The production, alas, hadn’t. Katie Mitchell’s feminist interpretation includes much that Donizetti didn’t intend you to see, including Lucia’s pivotal wedding night murder of her new husband, then miscarrying and suffering a hallucinatory breakdown before slashing her wrists in the bath.

One advantage of the film is that the waves of laughter that swept the audience are safely ignored. The main disadvantage is that the camera doesn’t know where to look next in Mitchell’s split-screen production (gorgeous 19th-century sets by Vicki Mortimer). The murder occurs concurrently in the adjacent room to Edgardo and Enrico’s showdown, the film unsatisfactorily pinging between the two. In spite of all this, Diana Damrau’s Lucia is a beautifully detailed assumption, with good vocal flexibility and some gorgeous softsinging. Charles Castronovo’s Edgardo and Ludovic Tézier’s Enrico are in fine fettle. Daniel Oren’s conducting remains soupy, the sextet being a particularly confused barrage of sound. The production is interesting, but mainly due to its misguidedness.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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