Samstag, 17. Januar 2009

Latest report about Lucia

Here's the latest report about Lucia out of the "Times online"

Scottish Opera sell-out in St Petersburg hits the high notes

The performance was a sell-out, the applause was thunderous and the reviews are ecstatic. Scottish Opera's first production in Russia, with the soprano Anna Netrebko returning to the stage after maternity leave, has been hailed an outstanding success.

“The diva was on top form vocally, with a fluid, soaring style,” the critic Galina Stolyarova wrote in The St Petersburg Times after Netrebko, 37, made her comeback in Gaetano Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor at the city's Mariinsky Theatre on Wednesday night. The newspaper described the production by John Doyle as “ascetic and elegant”.

Netrebko, named Musician of the Year in 2008, withdrew from the stage last autumn to give birth to her son Tiago, her first child with husband Erwin Schrott, a bass-baritone from Uruguay. Fans were anxious to see how, so soon after becoming a mother, she would cope with the demanding bel canto, coloratura role of Lucia, which operas aficionados still associate with Dame Joan Sutherland.

Russian television, reporting on the rehearsals, said Netrebko “did not spare herself”, as she yielded, in passionate moments, to being flung across the stage. Fellow singer Sergei Skorokhodov said she had put on a little weight but that her voice was more beautiful than ever. “It has acquired some new colours,” he said.

Not all the reviews were favourable, however. Vladimir Rannev, writing in the Russian daily Kommersant, said the Scottish production was boring and was saved only by the warmth of Netrebko's voice.

“The Scottish critics with one voice called John Doyle's production ‘musical',” he said. “After watching it, I take it the logic behind that assessment was ‘less theatre, more music'. But if one follows that logic further, then for greater musicality, a concert version would have done. And indeed that would have been much better than the work of Mr. Doyle. It wasn't even a question of the spare scenery but of the director's total lack of any ideas. Minimalism and other modern fads have nothing to do with it. We're talking here about the quality of the production, which no amount of ‘musicality' can justify - deadly tedium.”

The opera, which has a famously difficult mad scene, is based on a novel by Sir Walter Scott about feuding families in the Lammermuir Hills in the 17th century. Lucia is tricked into believing the man she really loves has died and signs a marriage contract with another, only to discover the truth too late. The story ends in tragedy all round.

Doyle's production had its premiere at the Scottish Opera in 2007. Netrebko had expressed an interest in the role of Lucia and her mentor, the conductor Valery Gergiev, was looking around for a director to stage a good production for her. When the Russian maestro came across Doyle's version while he was at the Edinburgh Festival in 2008, he knew he need look no further. A deal was signed in October.

The sets arrived in St. Petersburg only in December. “There was some time pressure with rehearsals but I really feel everything went beautifully, very smoothly on the opening night,” the diva said after the performance. She will repeat Lucia in St. Petersburg tonight before going on to New York, where her next engagement will again be to sing the role at the Metropolitan Opera.

The tickets for Wednesday's performance cost the rouble equivalent of $65 (£45) but were selling on the black market for more than $1,000. Fans were grateful for the last few places up in the gods.

Galina Pavlova, a spokeswoman for the Mariinsky Theatre, said that Netrebko had deliberately chosen to make her comeback on her home stage in St. Petersburg. “She sought to ease the stress of a stage comeback after months of absence. This stage feels like home and her dedicated audiences feel almost as close as family.”

Dafydd Burne Jones, Scottish Opera's staff producer, who went out to St Petersburg to recreate the production, said the company was delighted by its rapturous reception.

He said: “It is always very difficult to tell if it is successful - you tend to be hypercritical about your own work - but 15 minutes of stamping, shouting and a standing ovation puts one's mind at ease. It was a triumph for Scottish Opera.”

He admitted that staging the piece in St Petersburg had been a complicated by the short lead-in time before rehearsals began after Christmas. Some of the props arrived only on Wednesday, just hours before the premiere that evening. The set was also a “little worse for wear” when it arrived in December, but Mr Jones praised the Mariinsky's technical staff for their work to restore it. “By the time it opened the set looked as good as it had in Glasgow and Edinburgh,” he said.

Alex Reedjik, general director of Scottish Opera, said it had been an amazing experience. “Anna delivered the goods,” he said. “They really enjoyed her interpretation of Lucia.”

The company was now in “very, very early talks” about further collaborations with the Mariinsky.

Thanks to Rhodri for the information ; )

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