Loving Lucia, Turtle Creek News

by Suzanne Calvin

In case you can’t easily put your hands on “The Turtle Creek News,” here’s Martha Heimberg’s review of our season opening production:

TURTLE CREEK NEWS

Dallas Opera opens season with grand sets, costumes and a thrilling diva
Lucia de Lammermoor delivers the grand opera experience on opening night

Review by Martha Heimberg

I see a lot of first-rate theater in our city – and the Dallas Symphony is a fabulous experience. Still, the very ambition of grand opera – with it’s gorgeous costumes and lush sets and lighting and the swell of orchestra and voice – provides a special kind of transport to a realm of hyper beauty and sadness, where feelings often stifled are made suddenly rich and full.

Dallas Opera’s production of Donizetti’s Lucia Di Lammermoor directed by Garnett Bruce, at the glamorous and resonant Winspear Opera House, thrusts the audience into a thrilling world of brilliant color and high emotion – and holds us there for the entire evening. From music director and conductor Graeme Jenkins’s opening salvos in the pit, through the delicate matching of flute and voice mid-score to the final crescendos – opera happens!

The story is based on Sit Walter Scott’s fateful romance about a 19th Scottish lord who tricks his beautiful sister into giving up the man she loves, with tragic consequences for all. Donizetti’s songs are one wants from opera – melodious and filled with longing and expectation.

So much depends on the title character in this opera, and Romanian soprano Elena Mosuc’s lovely coloratura voice lifts off with the opening aria and carries us through the night. Mosuc has a vulnerable beauty about her, although her soaring voice also shows strength and daring. She’s perfect for the role of Lucia, both in her acting style and delivery of the songs of a woman reckless enough to defy her ambitious and powerful brother Enrico, played with style and menace by baritone Luca Grassi.

Mosuc’ s exquisite voice and presence is stunning in her solo arias, but it bends and lilts beautifully in her duets with her lover Edgardo, played by the handsome and full-voiced tenor Bryan Hymel. Even though their love is doomed, when they are singing together they evoke something eternal in the often fleeting perception of beauty in the love of a man and woman. Donizetti’s music has that quality – and these two singers truly embody this ideal.

All the singers have strong voices, and the chorus, under the direction chorus master Alexander Rom, sounds fabulous and look like a Renaissance painting when they gather in the great hall of the Lammermoor castle or at the graveyard in the final scene. Peter Hall’s rich and deeply colored costumes for men and women are works of art in themselves. Embroidered velvet, dashing boots and buckles and gleaming jewels are perfectly matched for chorus members and stars alike.

Henry Bardon’s magnificent set is built around high huge columns, lit in atmospheric muted and gloomy tones by lighting designer Marie Barnett. It all comes together magnificently in Act III when Edgardo laments Lucia’s supposed betrayal, and Hymel’s full tenor voice is touchingly gruffer by grief.

Lucia di Lammermoor, presented by the Dallas Opera, is onstage at the Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora, through Sunday November 6. Tickets are $25 to $275; for times and tickets, call 214-443-1000 or check www.dallasopera.org

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