104 of 108 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2010
I almost didn't purchase this based on some of the negative, nit-picking reviews I've seen here at Amazon. I own many other Lucias including Anna Moffo, Sutherland, Bonfadelli, Devia, Rancatore and Ciofi. Some of these are very good. But Netrebko's performance is something else again. She is indeed a Lucia for the ages. She has youth, vivacity, presence, sparkle, charisma, visually and aurally that delights the senses. This is full blown MET spectacular. Scenery, costumes, direction, sound, everything comes together in a gorgeous, iconic production. Don't let the nit-pickers dissuade you from owning and delighting in this gem!
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2010
I saw this originally during the Live in HD presentation and loved it. Other people (more experienced than I, probably) may not like it all that much, but I think it was fantastic (much more enjoyable than the Joan Sutherland version I first saw). I loved the update to the Victorian period and the sextet in Act II just gave me chills (not a common experience for me).
Mariusz Kwiecien is now one of my favorite baritones, due to this role (and hopefully will maintain that in the Live in HD's Carmen). His voice, his acting, his looks... I think they fit the role really well, and I can really see him as brother to Netrebko's Lucia.
Anna Netrebko? I think she was wonderful, despite all the criticism she receives. Perhaps not the best ever, but I think she has the talent (and the looks, of course) to really draw new people into opera and get them hooked.
91 of 112 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2009
I am a great fan of Donizetti's 'Lucia di Lammermoor', harking back to the late 1950's Dame Joan Sutherland portrayal of Lucia.
I do not care for the Sutherland DVD of the early 1980's, though, and any one who considers that 'that' performance represents Dame Joan's Lucia would simply be way far off the mark.
Of the available DVDs, Jose Carreras/Katia Ricciarelli/Leo Nucci/Gardelli offered a very first rate performance recording in the 1982 Bregenze theatre. Even though Ricciarelli's voice was already on the downhill trend in that performance, she is still the BEST Lucia on DVD in terms of vocal acting, stage presence, and ultra-fine stage acting. I would even say in terms of looks, she had a definite edge over Anna Moffo. The best all-round portrayal of Edgardo, Lucia and Enrico in that Bregenze performance, even if Ricciarelli did not have the high notes to perfection.
This is NOT to mention Maria Callas' 1953 recording with Giuseppi di Stefano under Tullio Serafin, which remained the benchmark of performance despite Dame Joan Sutherland's illustrious portrayal later.
There is a third DVD of this opera that is worthy of mention - the La Scala recording in 1992 of Mariella Devia. Though not visually a great Lucia, Devia's coloratura is simply the BEST around in this era. Hers is the idiomaticity, the nuances, the width and breadth of expressions required of this title role. A spine tinging performance in the first Act and the Mad Scene.
Back to this MET 2009 production.
Musically it isn't bad at all.
Even though Anna Netrebko in the title role failed to deliver a distinguished Lucia, hers is still a sterling performance in that the top notes are loose and free, and the vocal delivery of the Mad Scene among the most secure EVER, and rightfully the best CURRENTLY available.
What troubles is her characterisation in the first Act. Netrebko is a trival too vivacious as the Lucia mourning her mother, troubled by her love, and apprehensive of her own future, even though she is very much in love with Edgardo. The light-heartedness as portrayed in this Act is clearly off the mark.
The duet in the second Act with Enrico is one of the high lights of this production, and Kwiecien and Netrebko rise to the occasion admirably. even though they do not surpass the absolutely great performance by Nucci and Rcciarelli in the Bregenze live performance.
The sextet is the biggest flop of this MET production. The dramatic tension, the pathos, the conflict...all worn down by the photographer in the form of an aimless busybody. WHAT A WASTE!
Then the great Mad Scene. Netrebko is great here vocally, but again, not so great visually. Instead of mapping out her actions with the music, Netrebko has adopted other gestures and movements that are theatrically sound, but musically distracting. If you compare her gestures with those of Katia Ricciarelli, you would be surprised that how much more 'with the music' was the latter's movements and gestures. In this respect, early bel canto specialists like Leyla Gencer, Monserrat Caballe, and even Katia Ricciarelli, were more attuned to the musical script AS WELL AS the libretto's demands in their portrayals, a feat that is seldom seen these days on stage or on DVD any more.
Last but not least, Piotr Beczala's Edgardo is some what of a revelation these days, as a beautifully timbered tenor and ardent interpretor. His last scene rounds off an otherwise mediocre production with an heroic note that should under no circumstances be taken for granted.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2009
Production: Dark, eerie and actually how I always envisioned it. The entire mood fits the music perfectly. I love the addition of the ghost.
Lucia: Anna Netrebko offers a more than adequate rendering of this difficult role. In my humble opinion, Sutherland, Devia, Callas and June Anderson are among the best Lucias with Mariella Devia and June Anderson being my personal favorites. Keeping in mind that every singer misses notes on occasion, I think people get hung up on how many notes Ms. Netrebko misses and seem to forget that she not only has a beautiful instrument with superb breath control but she's also a fine actress. She's smart in her vocal interpretation as she carefully maneuvers around the difficult coloratura passages. In the mad scene, I was particularly impressed with her staccato notes, and am thankful for her attempting to, and subsequently nailing the high note at the end! Thanks to her riveting acting and singing, the mad scene does not disappoint.
Edgardo: Piotr Beczala has an elegant and almost regal sound to his voice and his acting skills are exceptional.
Enrico: Mariusz Kwiecien is menacing and kind of creepy. He has a sturdy and strong baritone voice and is also an excellent actor.
Raimondo: Ildar Abdrazakov is sympathetic and convincing with a great voice!
Bonus: Natalie Dessay is the best hostess in each of these Live in HD series.
Bottom line: A fantastic recording of Lucia that I highly recommend!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
I've seen dozens of Lucias starting in the 40's with Lily Pons (still one of the most exciting) but the opera Lucia became tugid and dull; only a vehicle for a soprano that had (or thought she had) a coloratura voice. Good ones Moffo, Callas, Sills etc. and bad ones Ricciarelli, Scotto and many others who continued to sing long after their voice had gone. In most performances the other cast members were mere automatons that parked and bellowed with an arm extended. The present performance was superior to all others I've seen because it was a total theatrical experience. All the cast was involved in the drama and drama it was. This was due to the genius of Mary Zimmerman. Her concept initially turned me off when I first read about it. But when I saw it was revelation. The cast sang and acted! The tenor Piotr Beczala as Edgardo, M.Kwiecin as Enrico (what an evil!), and the Raimondo of I. Abdrazakov were all stellar in their roles. In most past performances who remembers anyone but the soprano. In this one we remember them all. No, Netrebko is not a full bel canto but she is a great actress and a fantastic singer. It was a great evening. And yes I loved the Victorian ghost story.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2012
This production has such wildly mixed reviews about the leading lady and the staging that I thought I'd add my perspective for potential buyers. This role was redefined in the early 50's by Maria Callas and subsequently perfected in the late 50's-70's by Joan Sutherland. For me there are no better Lucias and even among their contemporaries there were few singers I enjoyed as much. There are no singers performing today who could share their stage. Unfortunately for an overall performance, I don't think either singer has an ensemble as electric as this. Their live Lucias are either in debatable sound or in the case of Sutherland's Met DVD version she was way past her prime and probably was paid big money for a fan favorite. A legion of sopranos have tried their hand at this opera some with great success and others not but for this particular staging Anna Netrebko's natural beauty, acting ability, and adequate voice make her a remarkable if not historic Lucia.
It is the male leads that really shine and steal the show. Piotr Beczala filling in for Villazon was perfect in a role that has been sung by all the great tenors since Donizetti wrote this opera in 1835. He has a beautiful, ringing voice and a noble bearing onstage. The man who made me really sit up and take notice though was Mariusz Kwiecien. He added an evil fire to Enrico Ashton I've never seen or heard before and made Enrico a role that baritones should seriously consider making an important part of their repertoire. In all the Lucia recordings I've heard before, and all the videos and DVD's, I've barely took notice of Enrico even when he was being played by a historically great baritone.
As far as the Mary Zimmerman staging goes, I have not read the book, but I rather liked the dark, Victorian tones and how Netrebko's costuming contrasts with them onstage. I liked it ghosts and all. Wrapping this together is the sound score of Marco Armiliato, an undermentioned conductor who I saw live conducting La Fille Du Regiment (also Donizetti) in 2010 at the Met. Armiliato deserves much credit as well for accommodating the singers with his tempi and volume. He is no different in this regard when it comes to Lucia di Lammermoor.
In conclusion, I loved it regardless of whether Anna Netrebko was the best or worst to take on the role of Lucia in the last 175+ years. It is also in High Definition and for me that is a plus.
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2009
The two Met's DVDs, 2009 by Netrebko and 1982 by Sutherland, are played back to back. Bel Canto or not, Netrebko's voice is passionate and highly credible. Her acting comes across fabulous on DVDs. Her facial expressions are well synchronized with her beautiful singing. Her Mad Scene is outstanding. In my memory, it is the best Mad Scene since another Anna half a century ago. That was Moffo. Beczala, while already an international star, could be a household name before long. I prefer Villazon and his robust voice. The Netrebko-Villazon chemistry is hard to match. Zimmerman does a superb job on the background scenaries (simple photos in Scotland), but the photographer and the injection can be done without. A strong plus is having Dessay serving as hostess. She is wonderful. I wish she sings couple short notes.
Sutherland is vocally calculating as an old pro. Lucia is more about passion and less about a canary singing contest. She is not cut out for DVDs. Her facial expression, if any, does not convey her emotions.... unlike Netrebko. Krauss is superb, as always. This is a three star DVD.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2010
Lucia di Lammermoor transposed to the Victorian age, with a fully fledged verismo Russian soprano and somewhat unknown central Europe tenor and baritone? Yes, and it works!
I see no use in comparing Netrebko with belcanto specialists (on studio audio only recordings): this is on stage, on the fly, and she is beautiful, big voiced and a magnificent artist, she brings a true Lucia, perhaps without the fioritura found elsewhere, but always musical and tasty. And her Italian diction, questioned by other reviewer, is nearly perfect. She's the star of the show. Brava, Anniuska!
And, IMHO this opera is not only the soprano role: the male section is also important, and it's well served here. I'm a fan of Lord Enrico Ashton (sure Verdi was a big fan of him too), and young baritone Mariusz Kwiecien is a terrific one. Good voice, right mean attitude, perhaps a little too much spice, but powerful and believable. Also very good is young bass Abdrazakov (Raimondo), who sings not in the usual "peace everybody" way, but shows plenty of blood in his veins. Tenor Beczala is fit, musical, elegant and well behaved on stage, but he's a little short of the Italian fire the role needs. Edgardo is a desperate romantic hero (that's why Di Stefano, not a belcantist, was so good at it), and Beczala lacks that crazy determination. He's no match for Enrico, I can tell you.
Production and stage direction are new but not annoying. Perhaps the infamous photographer will spoil the sextet in Act II to some traditionalists, but to me is OK (and the guy is indeed a pro in his job). We can call it a septet from now on ;-)
This 2009 2-DVD set is technically flawless, 16:9 screen, very good sound 5.1 and DTS, subtitles in Italian, German, French, Spanish and Chinese. I can recommend it.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2010
This is a pretty good performance of the opera. The first Met version had Netrebko with Villazon. The latter had a very very bad night and soon afterward retired temporarily from singing. So the Met found a new tenor, really quite good, to match Netrebko. She is not the finest Lucia ever since her coloratura abilities are not of the first order, but she is good looking and sings very well in general. So I'd give this version a B+ rating.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2011
This opera is going to lie close to my heart, not least because of its story brought to life by an excellent cast and principal characters. There's much that impressed and little that didn't. Transferring the storyline from early eighteenth century to the Victorian period was in my very humble opinion, a believable move.
The setting of gloom - bare trees in a darkened landscape set the tone for the pending tragedy that would unfold. There's always drama behind the drama, so I feel I should mention here that Piottr Beczala stepped in for an "ailing" Villazon. I have never heard Villiazon, so I had no frame of reference, except to note that I hear Beczala in other operas. To step in at short notice and produce what would be a standout performance is what professionalism is about. Beczala steals the show for me.
Netrebko has a beautiful clear lilt which I liked and her "mad scene" about which so much has already been written, quite powerful. While some here may have reservations about her almost playfulness in Act 1 in the light of her mother's recent demise, her love for Edgardo places her in a situation where's she displays conflict - the vacillation between joy and sadness is palpable. The descent into madness must be gradual and the scene between Lucia and Enrico solidifies this aspect.
I must once again say that Piotr Beczala with this performance entrenched his position as one of the finest lyrical tenors today. His aria "Fra poco a me ricovero" was delivered with such powerful passion, the enthusiastic applause at the end of it was very well deserved.
Now I feel justified in having purchased this DVD.