Sunday, September 18, 2016

Lucia di Lammermoor at Opera San José

Last week Opera San José opened their 33rd season, & on Sunday I attended their production of Lucia di Lammermoor. Soprano Sylvia Lee sang & acted the title role so proficiently that it seemed almost light for her. Her voice was clean, pretty & smooth throughout, & it cut through to the ear without being loud. Her Lucia was frightening in the mad scene & looked both scared & dangerous. I liked that the staging had her interacting with other characters, who were not able to keep sharp objects out of her hands.

Tenor Kirk Dougherty's wide-eyed Edgardo looked constantly startled. He made an effortful sound that evinced muscle & stamina, & he was unfailingly strong all the way through his death scene. As Enrico, baritone Matthew Hanscom was big-voiced & appropriately blunt & bullying. Bass Colin Ramsey was a benign Raimondo, his voice clear, soft-edged & slightly slender. Tenor Michael Mendelsohn was a scene-stealing Arturo, comically preening & leering. The relatively small chorus sang cohesively.

The orchestra sounded balanced under conductor Ming Luke, & it was nice that his beat could be flexible. I was fortunate to be seated just 3 rows from the stage, & it was interesting to observe the flutist stand up in the pit & turn to face the stage when she accompanied Lucia's mad scene.

The production was conventional, with period costumes & flat scenery. All the indoor scenes were set in the same wood-paneled interior, meaning the Wolf's Crag scene was transported to Lammermoor, making Edgardo crash the wedding party twice. The audience was generally attentive, though I heard people comment about the set each time the curtain went up. Someone's hearing aid squalled throughout the performance, & I felt really bad for Edgardo when a cellphone started ringing in the closing moments of his big scene at the end of the opera.

Opera San José has a new ticket design which helpfully displays the seat number in a large font. It was fun to break the fourth wall during intermission by chatting with Oboeinsight, who tried to convince me that the oboe is actually not that hard to play.

§ Lucia di Lammermoor
Music by Gaetano Donizetti | Libretto by Salvadore Cammarano

Opera San José
Conductor, Ming Luke
Stage Director, Benjamin Spierman

Lucia, Sylvia Lee
Edgardo, Kirk Dougherty
Enrico, Matthew Hanscom
Alisa, Anna Yelizarova
Normanno, Yungbae Yang
Arturo, Michael Mendelsohn
Raimondo, Colin Ramsey
Opera San José Orchestra, Chorus, Dancers and Supers

Sunday, September 11, 2016, 3p
California Theatre, San Jose

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