Saturday, February 26, 2011

Has Lucia Sucked the Life Out of Natalie Dessay?

(Photo: Ken Howard/The Metropolitan Opera)
"In this revival of Mary Zimmerman’s grayly atmospheric production, there is an empty space where Lucia ought to be. Not that there’s not a soprano onstage, and a redoubtable one, in Ms. Dessay, returning to the company after a two-year absence. Her cool voice has thinned a bit, but it still impresses in coloratura and rises to the score’s climactic moments. The issue is not the voice so much as what that voice should serve: the character. Ms. Dessay and Ms. Zimmerman have clearly, carefully considered every motion (the soprano’s physical performance Thursday was essentially identical to the one she gave in 2007, when the production was new) and the result is a Lucia almost entirely blank. The main consideration seems to have been avoiding going over the top, being too “operatic.” But in this version, Lucia — that supremely expressive Romantic character, the one who weeps, swoons, trembles and is often, as the libretto describes, simply “beside herself with misery and fear” in a work dominated by passions and blood — is so internal that the audience perceives her only as indifferent and detached." [Source]