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Lucia Di Lammermoor review at London Coliseum – ‘a commanding revival’

First seen in 2008, David Alden’s hard-hitting staging of Donizetti’s tragedy of forced marriage and its shocking aftermath returns for a second revival.

Most of the cast are new, all of them committing to Alden’s punchy dramatic vision, which may seem to move the piece away from the traditional melancholy bel canto approach but which in so doing respects Donizetti and his librettist as creators of a compelling, pitch-black drama.

Not coincidentally, Amanda Holden’s canny English translation registers powerfully, while Charles Edwards’ distressed sets and Brigitte Reiffenstuel’s heavy Victorian costumes underline the resonantly gothic Scottish ambience.

Sarah Tynan may be a light-voiced Lucia – though there’s a long tradition of such sopranos in the role – but she’s unstinting in the wholeheartedness of her immersion in her character’s plight. Her big scenes go powerfully – the Mad Scene aided by the use of the eerie glass harmonica the composer originally wanted for his score, here played by Philipp Alexander Marguerre.

She’s aptly partnered as her lover Edgardo by the warm Latin tenor of Mexican Eleazar Rodriguez, who rises with distinction to the emotional brokenness of his final scene.

More complex than the usual mere bully, vibrant US baritone Lester Lynch reveals Lucia’s brother Enrico as a man at the end of his rope, prepared to sacrifice anything and anyone in the cause of regaining his family’s former position.

Clive Bayley’s twisted chaplain Raimondo, Michael Colvin’s patronising bridegroom Arturo, Elgan Llyr Thomas’s sneaky retainer Normanno and Sarah Pring’s Cassandra-like companion Alisa all fit admirably into the broader picture.

Fine work, too, from the company’s chorus and orchestra, with Stuart Stratford conducting a performance whose resilient musical values help the drama mesh together.

Verdict
Commanding revival of David Alden’s gripping production

Production Information

Production
Lucia Di Lammermoor
Venue
London Coliseum
City
London
Starts
October 25, 2018
Press night
October 25, 2018
Librettist
Salvadore Cammarano
Translation
Amanda Holden
Composer
Gaetano Donizetti
Director
David Alden
Conductor
Stuart Stratford
Set
Charles Edwards
Lighting
Adam Silverman, Andrew Cutbush
Costume
Brigitte Reiffenstuel
Stage manager
James Bartrum
Cast includes
Sarah Tynan, Eleazar Rodriguez, Lester Lynch, Clive Bayley, Michael Colvin, Sarah Pring, Elgan Llyr Thomas
Producer
English National Opera
Running time
2hrs 35mins