Reviewed by Lee Shepherd
The Tri-Cities Opera production of Lucia Di Lammermoor is a masterpiece, from the first fate-laden notes of the overture to the last fate-fulfilled note of the finale.
Set in 17th century Scotland and based on a novel by Sir Walter Scott, it’s high drama or rather– let’s be clear here – high-class soap opera. It’s the story of an emotionally fragile woman caught between the wishes of a greedy, ambitious brother, and her love for her brother’s arch enemy.
The show is cast predominantly from TCO’s current Resident Artist class – and what a class it is! Robert Heepyoung Oh, with a strong baritone voice that reaches deep into the basement, shines in the role of the brother; powerfully voiced tenor Kirk Dougherty (a returning Resident Artist) is every inch the passionate lover, Edgardo; and soprano Victoria Cannizzo plays the part of Lucia with abandon and astounding control over her instrument.
Cannizzo’s show-stopping mad scene, a showcase for coluratura sopranos since the opera made its debut, was thrilling — chock-full of cadenzas, trills and crystal-clear high E-flats. She shared the scene with flautist Georgetta Maiolo, as they dueted and dueled up and down the scales. It’s hard to imagine that Maria Callas or Joan Sutherland could have done it any better.
Supporting roles of Raimondi, played by William Roberts; Alisa portrayed by Cabiria Jacobsen; Lord Arturo Bucklaw, played by Mario Eun Hwan Bae, and Normanno, sung by Richard Leonberger, were as strong as the leads.
Playing a grueling, non-stop score, the orchestra under Maestro John Mario Di Costanzo is to be highly commended for its rock-solid foundation for the opera. Cellist Hakan Hromek-Tayga simply soared through the heart-wrenching, dying-lover music in the final act.
Set designer Craig Saeger, lighting designer Joe Beck, stage director Laura Alley with assistance by Judy Berry, and costumiers Stephen Dell’Aversano and Julia Kelly collaborated to create an opera that was as magnificent to see as it was to hear.
And the chorus, prepared by John Isenberg, provided a sane and sonorous backdrop for the over-the-top antics of the lead singers. Two paws up for Bree, the Irish wolfhound who lumbered on and off stage, without a misstep.
Honored at Friday’s performance (Feb. 10) were trumpeter Elmer Fairbank, who retired from the TCO Orchestra after 40 years, and Robert Heepyoung Oh, who received this year’s Harmony Club scholarship as a promising young artist.
Come on, Southern Tier opera lovers. Let’s fill every seat at Sunday’s 3 p.m. performance(Feb. 12) at The Forum in Binghamton – anything less would be a tragedy!
Visit: http://www.tricitiesopera.com for tickets.