Young Stars Shine in Vancouver Opera’s “Lucia di Lammermoor”

Reviews from the Production of “Lucia di Lammermoor” from Vancouver Opera, starring two great young performers, the elegant Eglise Gutierrez and the masterful Michael Fabiano.

Review: Mad About Lucia

By David Gordon Duke, Special to The Sun December 5, 2010

Lucia di Lammermoor

Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Saturday, December 4

Performances continue December 7, 9, and 11

– – –

Vancouver Opera has another hit in its recent string of must-see productions: Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, which opened a four-evening run at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Saturday.

This bel canto favourite holds its place in the repertoire as a vehicle for just the right singer; but while this production glories in the contribution of a single star, the endeavour has other strengths. These include a picturesque (if appropriately gloomy) set and Amiel Gladstone’s pragmatic direction, a fundamentally traditional staging enlivened with a few surprises.

Then there’s the sensitive work of the VO orchestra, led with dash and real verve by Jonathan Darlington. Casting is consistent, with bass-baritone Burak Bilgili and Gregory Dahl turning in strong performances as, respectively, the Lammermoor chaplain and Enrico, Lucia’s dastardly brother.

Tenor Michael Fabiano is showcased in the role of Edgardo, Lucia’s love interest. Fabiano’s big voice is still a trifle inconsistent at the top, but he delivers with a flashy confidence, and an unmistakable charisma animates all his big numbers. His raw intensity takes the second act finale to a level of dramatic clarity that makes the plot seem, for just a split second, remotely plausible.

Here is a tenor to watch.

But the evening begins and ends, just as Donizetti meant it to, with the title role. Vancouver audiences had their first glimpse of soprano Eglise Gutiérrez in Rigoletto a few seasons ago; Lucia shows what Gutiérrez can really do.

Her vocal technique is more than a match for the gruelling demands of bel canto: she has the utterly reliable high notes, the quicksilver agility, the sense of line, the feel for ornamentation and, most significantly, the taste to own the role.

Gutiérrez stopped the show with her first number, and thereafter went from strength to strength. Her take on the fabled third act “mad scene” was clean and consistent, a musical and dramatic tour de force abetted by wonderful work from the orchestra’s principal flute—playing so tangible and supple that it might just as well have been coming from a character up on stage.

The great bel canto operas are the property of vocal stars who can make them live, and force audiences to see beyond their stylized conventions. Eglise Gutiérrez is just such a star, and her Lucia is old school opera at its most powerful.


The Vancouver Sun

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Published in: on December 7, 2010 at 2:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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