, May 2011
This La Scala’s 1992 Lucia di Lammermoor directed by Pier’Alli—who also designed sets and costumes—is classic, powerful, and totally in keeping with the Gothic atmosphere of Walter Scott’s novel The Bride of Lammermoor from which the libretto is written. Glorious costumes, impressive, ominous sets representing the dark ruins of a castle with high spanning arches, succeed in creating a sense of foreboding. The direction itself is rather static with singers left to their own acting talents.
Mariella Devia most certainly ranks in the top three Lucias of the past fifty years. Her portrayal of the fragile, mentally unstable character is credible. The singing is compelling, pitch perfect, with some unique dramatic shading. Devia exhibits a warm, ample middle register, and exquisite tonal clarity in the upward range, as well as coloratura passages. If some Lucias are/were willing to take risks and add trills, runs, and cadenzas, as is customary in the bel canto tradition, Devia is more in the spirit of a Callas, opting for the come scritto approach. Opposite the Italian diva, Vincenzo La Scola is a creditable Edgardo, with fine squillo, clear, effortless high notes. As Lord Enrico Ashton, Renato Bruson sings up to his reputation of one of the finest baritones of his generation. The voice is powerful and the stage presence commanding. Despite the fact that his costume does not make him look like a Calvinist chaplain, Carlo Colombara is excellent in the part of Raimondo. Tenor Marco Beri is an estimable Arturo; so are Ernesto Gavazzì and Floriana Sovilla respectively singing the parts of Normanno and Alisa. As always, the La Scala’s chorus delivers an outstanding performance.
At the helm of an orchestra who knows its way around this score, Stefano Ranzani leads a vibrant, albeit scrupulous performance. The pit forces offer remarkable support during the brilliant sextet of Act 2, while harpist and flautist solos (too bad their names are not mentioned) are pure listening pleasure.
The filming regrettably makes incessant use of fade in-fade out, a sign of the times.
This is a stylish, highly recommendable version of Donizetti’s opera.