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John Deaderick: Scots in the Rust Belt

This Saturday Grass Valley’s Del Oro Theare presents the Met Opera Live in HD performance of Gaetano Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor.”

As in the present and recent past popular books are snapped up to become movies or television mini-series, so in opera’s heyday novels found themselves transformed onto the operatic stage. Sir Walter Scott’s “The Bride of Lammermoor” then becomes Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor.” The work is oft remembered for presenting one of the great mad scenes. Yes, it’s really good, even though legend has it that the composer tossed it off in half an hour while enduring a migraine.

To nineteenth century continental Europeans, Scotland was a wild, primitive place at the edge of the world. Indeed, a close look at Scottish history does little to dispel this notion. Scott’s novel of betrayal, murder, and insanity is based on actual events. In the opera, Lucia loves Edgardo, but her brother Entrico, in financial straits, wants her to marry the wealthy Arturo. Through nefarious means, he forces this to happen. Bad idea. The wedding night ends with Arturo murdered and Lucia gone mad. That scene often features the heroine with bloodied night gown and dripping dagger. And for Edgardo, things do not end well either. Thankfully the libretto doesn’t dispatch him as in the novel, where he falls from his horse to drown in quicksand. In Scotland.

The current production moves to the American Rust Belt, for some reason, and one wonders just how this will play out. None of this will take away from the opera’s strengths however, which are its endlessly flowing melody and vocal acrobatics. This bel canto showpiece demands a coloratura soprano of the highest order, and by all accounts this production has found one in Nadine Sierra. That all said, the highlight of this work for me is the astounding sextet at the end of Act II. As they say, wait for it.

John Deaderick is a local theatre artist and the author of Make Sweet the Minds of Men: Early Opera and Tragic Catharsis, available at Amazon.com


WHO: Del Oro Theatre Presents

WHAT: The Metropolitan Opera, LIVE in HD “Lucia di Lammermoor”

WHERE: Del Oro Theatre, 165 Mill Street, Grass Valley

WHEN: Saturday, May 21 at 9:55 a.m.

MORE INFO: Tickets may be purchased at the Del Oro Box Office or online at http://www.sierratheaters.com

Nadine Sierra in the title role of Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor."
Photo by Marty Sohl courtesy Met Opera

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