IU Opera Theater presents Donizetti's 'Lucia di Lammermoor'
As its first production of the spring semester, Indiana University Opera Theater will present Gaetano Donizetti's gripping, tragic opera Lucia di Lammermoor, Feb. 5, 6, 12 and 13, at 8 p.m., at the Musical Arts Center in Bloomington.
Last presented by IU Opera in 2002, the work will be conducted by Jacobs School of Music Professor Arthur Fagen, with sets and costumes designed by Jacobs Professor C. David Higgins. Internationally acclaimed stage director James Marvel will make his IU Opera Theater debut with the production.
Set in 17th century Scotland, the story about a young woman driven to madness by love and politics is based on Sir Walter Scott's novel The Bride of Lammermoor.
Despite long-standing family feuds, Lucia and Edgardo exchange vows of love, but Lucia's brother tricks her into believing that her betrothed is untrue to her. Brokenhearted, she agrees to marry another. The wedding is interrupted by the return of Edgardo, who, believing himself betrayed, denounces her. Her mind as well as her heart are broken, and she kills her husband in their marriage chamber -- then horrifies the lingering guests by a display of madness before collapsing. After learning of Lucia's tragic death, Edgardo takes his own life.
"The interesting thing about Lucia is that it resembles many characters, moments and situations of Shakespeare's greatest and most memorable plays," said Marvel. "You begin with the story of two lovers from rival families, much like Romeo and Juliet. Then the character Normano manipulates Enrico in a style remarkably reminiscent of Iago and Othello. And, of course, there is Lucia's mad scene, which is marvelous and reminiscent of Ophelia's mad scene in Hamlet. However, in this one, Donizetti raises the stakes a bit because our heroine is completely covered in blood. It's the perfect way to impress a date."
First performed in Naples in 1835, Lucia di Lammermoor remains among the few operas that have been continuously performed since their premieres. The work was so popular throughout the 19th century that in 1883 it became the second work to be performed at the Metropolitan Opera House.
For this production, Marvel's emphasis will be on the opera's roots in the gothic novel tradition and a deeper exploration of the character's psychological underpinnings than is seen in most productions of Lucia. "It will be better than the production at the Metropolitan Opera," he promised.
Marvel explained his favorite aspect of this opera: "Everything goes wrong for everybody," he said. "It's the true definition of a tragedy. What's not to love about that? It will make you feel better about your life."
Since his professional directing debut in 1996, Marvel has directed over 60 productions in the United States, England, Scotland, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Among many career highlights, he was named Classical Singer Magazine's Stage Director of the Year in 2008.
Lucia di Lammermoor will be sung in Italian with English supertitles.
For more information about the Jacobs School of Music and IU Opera and Ballet Theater, see https://www.music.indiana.edu/operaballet. For ticket information, see https://music.indiana.edu/opera, or call the Musical Arts Center at 812-855-7433.
This story was initially published Jan. 21, 2010.