Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Lucia meets Carrie

Last night after a dinner at Sushi Queen Mr.Z and I took in the new COC production of Lucia di Lammermoor. I knew the production from recordings and one traditional staging of a Met production I saw many years ago so I was excited to see it finally live. Written in the 1830s by Donezitti and based on a Sir Walter Scott book, which itself was based on Scottish tales it is a piece steeped in Romanticism. David Alden set the piece in nineteenth-century Britain with a decaying set that represented the dwindling power of Lucia's family. Monochromatic in tone it played to Victorian ideas of mourning in dress and style. Offsetting the dark tones of the costumes and the sets was crisp white lighting that created a world of shadows that took on a life of their own. Alden created a repressive Victorian world that was inhabited by the doll-like Lucia who became everyone's toy, at one point her brother played with her toy dolls in her room/nursery, threatening and with holding her favourite teddy bear. She was like Alice lost in Wonderland not of her own making. It was at times disturbing to watch, especially how Enrico treated Lucia, but it also helped move along the narrative. We understand why this pretty little girl, this china doll, is broken by everyone else. The idea of a Victorian childhood became twisted through the use of a nursery stage which became increasingly more important as Lucia's world and her mind unraveled. It was a masterful use of staging using a theatre within a play to achieve dramatic effects. 

The singing was stellar. The three main singers Anna Christy, Stephen Costello and Brian Mulligan were in fine form with a balance between the three that is uncommon. Too often there is one incredible voice that outshines or outperforms the others, but these three voices worked together with the director, lighting designer and set designer to create a beautifully crafted piece. Kudos also go to the ensemble and chorus who helped created the oppressive atmosphere. 

After seeing this production which relied so heavily on lighting to create mood, the startling contrast of red (blood) against Lucia's white gown brought to mind Stephen King's iconic film Carrie. The way that Alden played with the lighting and design created a connection between the two stories. Leaving the theatre the images and narratives became intertwined. 

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