My latest review in the February issue of Opera News.
Lucia di Lammermoor
Stage director Tomer Tvulun brought his signature cinematic vision to Atlanta Opera’s 2011–12 season opener, Lucia di Lammermoor (seen Nov. 12), working in a style reminiscent of his 2009 AO production of Der Fliegende Holländer. Lighting designer Robert Wierzel and projection designer Ruppert Bohle gave us spooky, oversized shadows, craggy trees and a foreboding ambiance from the start, abetted by imposing stone walls and tombstones, designed by Erhard Rom and borrowed from Cleveland Opera. However, it was the Act III mad scene that transported opera-loving voyeurs beyond the confines of the theater. Twenty-foot doors swung open to reveal a blindingly luminescent bridal chamber, with white satin curtains, linens spattered with blood, and Arturo’s lifeless body.
Georgia Jarman’s lyric voice is simultaneously burnished and warm. A soprano who seems to be exceedingly comfortable with the demands of Donizetti’s vocal writing, Jarman was a stunning Lucia and was able to turn on a dime. Her demeanor was positively distraught in “Regnava nel silenzio,” yet the ensuing cabaletta, “Quando rapito in estasi,” was jubilantly Norina-esque. Lucia’s fantasma was omnipresent throughout the evening, contributing to the young girl’s instability and even appearing superimposed upon the portrait of Lucia’s mother at Ravenswood, bringing to mind a theme-park haunted mansion. In the climax of the opera, Lucia comes completely undone and it was the juxtaposition of her madness and the sheer beauty of Jarman’s voice that made it so unnerving. Jarman’s fioratura in duet with the glass armonica was exquisite, articulated flawlessly as she slit her wrists before her brother Enrico and all of the wedding guests.
Arthur Fagan has assumed the long-vacant position of music director at Atlanta Opera, and he conducted the orchestra with clarity on opening night. The instrumentalists played well but sometimes provided too much heft, in particular, the deafening pizzicato underlying Lucia and Edgardo’s duet, “Veranno a te sull’aure.” The ensemble was particularly fine later on during the famous sextet, when Walter Huff’s chorus — handsomely dressed in mid-nineteenth-century fashion — embarked upon the D-major stretta in the finale of Act II.
Nearly the entire cast of principals made Atlanta Opera debuts on this night. Tenor Jonathon Boyd appeared as Lucia’s winsome lover Edgardo, singing confidently and pleasingly. Baritone Stephen Powell sang the role of Enrico, playing the older brother as self-serving rather than cruel — an impression reinforced by the omission of the tower scene in Act III, in which Enrico gloats over his success and challenges Edgardo to a duel. Surprisingly, Fagan instead retained Raimondo’s Act II aria, “Ah! Cedi, cedi,” which highlighted the legato splendor of Arthur Woodley’s bass voice.