Saturday, October 4, 2008

Diana Damrau debuts Lucia at the Met UPDATED!


Diana Damrau made last night, 3rd of October, her debut as Lucia at the Met, replacing la Netre. I'm pretty sure that 99% of the audience left the theatre thinking "Thank God!".

Listen to Diana Damrau at the October the 1st dress rehearsal singing the cadenza of the Mad Scene

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And then on October the 3rd, opening night.

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And her "Quando rapito in estasi" on opening night

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Good, ain't she?


Here's the NY Times review:

It takes pluck for a soprano to sing her first-ever performance of the touchstone title role in Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” at the Metropolitan Opera. But Diana Damrau is a confident young artist. And this brilliant young German coloratura soprano has a lot to be confident about.

On Friday night Ms. Damrau had an impressive outing as Lucia in the Met’s revival of Mary Zimmerman’s inventive 2007 production, which zaps the story from 17th-century to 19th-century Scotland.

At first Ms. Damrau needed some time to warm up vocally. As Lucia tells her companion Alisa of having fallen helplessly in love with Edgardo, heir to the rival Ravenswood clan and her overbearing brother’s mortal enemy, Ms. Damrau’s wistful and subdued singing seemed tentative. During the lyrically soaring aria “Regnava nel silenzio,” in which Lucia describes the ghost of an ancestor who was killed by a jealous Ravenswood lover, Ms. Damrau tucked a few extra breathing spaces into some of the lines, and her full-voiced high notes were somewhat hard-edged.

But soon, during “Quando, rapito in estasi,” in which Lucia’s girlish ardor comes bubbling out, Ms. Damrau dispatched the passage work, trills and top notes with aplomb. Her sound was warm, plush and clear. This frenetic Lucia, who sees ghosts and acts rashly, already seemed to be emotionally fragile.

As Ms. Damrau played the daunting mad scene, the unhinged young woman, having stabbed to death the man she was forced to marry — the well-meaning Lord Arturo — was not vacant-eyed and spectral, like many Lucias. Instead she was fidgety and manic, all spastic bodily gestures as she lurched about the ballroom of Lammermoor Castle before the horrified wedding guests. She was like Vivien Leigh’s broken-down, jabbering yet still flirtatious Blanche DuBois in the final scene of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

That Ms. Damrau executed the scene’s spiraling vocal roulades so accurately and held sustained tones with such penetrating steadiness lent a quality of eerie control to Lucia’s madness. And her gleaming top notes filled the house.


But it was Ms. Damrau’s night. During the rousing final ovation she took to the stage like a rock star, looking exultant.

And the AP review:

A year after French soprano Natalie Dessay opened the season to acclaim in a new production of Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor," a very different kind of singer scored her own triumph as the Scottish maiden driven to madness and murder.

Astonishingly, Friday night's revival marked the first time Diana Damrau, a German lyric coloratura, had ever sung the role. Yet she immediately made it her own, with a combination of splendid vocalism and keen dramatic insight.

Where the diminutive Dessay's Lucia is a frail creature, seemingly unbalanced from the start, Damrau portrays a sturdier young woman happily in love with a neighboring squire, Edgardo, until she is tricked into thinking he has abandoned her.

Her singing is likewise robust at the beginning, with house-filling high notes and expert ornamentation. But it's no mere exercise of vocal fireworks; there's a wonderful expressiveness in the way she modulates her tone and shapes the melodic line to fit the emotional moment. Later, in opera's most famous mad scene, she falls apart before our eyes, exploding in anger one moment, then floating mournful phrases that seem to hang in the air.


Alex Macias said...

Wow! A lot better than I had expected. I thought Damrau wouldn't have the sensibility to play the character (though she DEFINITELY has the voice!), but I'm glad I was wrong.

Thanks, Parsi, for this wonderful audio!


Hariclea said...

She si wonderful!!! And she changed my mind regarding the rehearsal i heard. I liked Bczala more than i did her in that one, but it seems taht last night she was wonderful!! Now i regret not having stayed up :-( And i would tend to agree that this suits her much better than Anna :-)

Ygor C.S. said...

What happened between the dress rehearsal and the actual performance? She's completely changed - for better. When I heard the in house recording from the rehearsal, I was immensely disappointed, because the singing was entirely forceful, uncharming, un-legato. Now the actual performance was much, much better.

She's a really excellent Lucia, though I think she still needs to improve her singing characterization, avoiding dramatic effects that in fact turn the singing less beautiful and not more expressive, but more forced or affected. Anyway, an excellent surprise - she really discovered the Bel Canto that needs to flourish in Lucia. :-)

Mei said...

Hariclea, I never take a rehearsal seriously... A rehearsal is just a hint... You must listen to the performance and then decide whether you like it or not...