My six or seven old readers might remember that I had first found Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in the Deutsche Oper dreadful and then old-fashioned. Today, I could even imagine that it could actually become interesting if a stage director could be found to make its seediness purposeful. The fact is that, in this worn-out production, Olga Peretyatko seemed somehow too brand-new. She has many and many ideas about Lucia and she diligently tried them out – in the Mad Scene, she cared to try sexiness, crudeness and even grotesque – but without the help of a director, coherence was not really there. The effort is nonetheless more than welcome. Moreover, she has physique de rôle for romantic heroines and moves gracefully (albeit in a very standardized way) on stage.
The musical side of her performance similarly shows a serious intent of making sense of everything, in the way an important singer should do. I am not only sure that, at this stage of her career, she has the “important” voice to put her ideas into practice. To start with, her soprano is a couple of sizes too small for Lucia; Donizetti’s orchestration can hardly be called “heavy”, but Peretyatko was often inaudible – not in her high register, it must be said, which is always clear, round and pleasant. She has very good trills, very smooth (but not athletic à la Sutherland) coloratura and beautiful staccato. Her in alts are a bit fragile, but very reliable, and her low notes are particularly solid for such light a voice. She understands the dramatic situations, but – having to operate at 100% most of the time – she does not really have leeway for tonal colouring “on the text” as true bel canto style demands. I had the impression that, in a lighter role, one could sample her artistry (and not merely her technique or loveliness) more properly.
The announcement of Joseph Calleja’s cancellation was received with booing – and his replacement by an ensemble singer was not really encouraging. I had seen Yosep Kang before as Tamino and Don Ottavio and had nothing to write home about both times. This evening, however, he really showed what he can do. Although the voice has no inbuilt charm in it, the Korean tenor has very easy high notes and can pierce through the orchestra, although his voice too is a bit on the light side for Edgardo. That very lightness, though, made his Edgardo sound young and vulnerable, his very clear phrasing (sometimes a bit short on legato) and diction made everything he sang sound sincere and – even if the libretto does not give him much to work on – he could find the right note of melancholy, of helplessness in his role. One could almost see the suicidal element lurking on from the beginning. I have to confess that I found his hardly-for-the-ages but truly fresh performance the most interesting thing this evening.
I had seen Luca Salsi long ago at the Met as Sharpless and my impression then was of a spontaneous voice. Not this evening, I am afraid. His baritone lacked projection and his performance was a bit faceless. As always, nobody really gave the rest of the cast lots of thought – and one could hear that. Roberto Rizzi Brignoli could help his under-rehearsed cast out, but not his under-rehearsed orchestra. The opening scene was embarrassingly messy – and, even if things got a bit better afterwards, these musicians did not seem to be “into” this performance.