Languid and mysterious Lucia — music and theatre of the highest order

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For its second major operatic production of the season, Opéra de Montréal is presenting Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti, considered the most famous tragedy in the romantic bel canto repertoire.

For its lead singer, it offers the possibility of a vocal and theatrical tour de force. It’s on for four performances, from Nov. 9-14, and given the fact it is both theatre and music of the highest order, it should be on everyone’s must-see list.

Opera online summarizes the plot, and the “languid and mysterious Lucia,” this way: “The horns and kettledrums in the opening measures seem to suggest the frail heroine’s funeral…In the foggy atmosphere of Medieval Scotland, the pure and disinterested love of Lucia and Edgardo emerges – a love like that of Romeo and Juliette, too beautiful to last, too dangerous for their families.

“A star-crossed lover, Lucia soon becomes a victim, betrayed and hurt, stripped of her reason for living, before losing her mind – the “mad scene” is a crucial moment in the plot, a challenge for coloratura sopranos and a much anticipated delight for audiences. Il dolce suono is a technically difficult scene, where the voice, both sweet and soft, seems to climb to the heavens, with breathtaking vocalise translating the subtleties of the heroine’s hallucinations. The scene is the climax of a delicate masterpiece, a bloody ritual wrapped in a heavenly bel canto.”

To bring to life this dramatic love story, in which emotions are pushed to the extreme, the Opéra de Montréal has hired Korean soprano Kathleen Kim for the role of Lucia and Quebec tenor Frédéric Antoun as her lover Edgardo.

“Lucia is undeniably one of the greatest female roles in the repertoire and we’re fortunate to have Kathleen Kim—who was recently hailed for her appearance at the Metropolitan Opera in New York—in the role,” says Patrick Corrigan, Opéra de Montréal general manager.

Written in 1835 during a prolific period in the composer’s life, Lucia di Lammermoor is said to balance virtuosic singing with steady drama. And while the work peaks in the third act with Lucia’s famous “mad” scene—requiring great technique, flexibility, and agility on the part of the performer—Donizetti sustains the dramatic intensity through the vocal ensembles (notably, the famoussextet at the end of the second act) and choruses.

Among famous artists who have immortalized the role of Lucia and by mastering Donizetti’s demanding score are Maria Callas, Nathalie Dessay, Joan Sutherland, and Anna Netrebko.

Alonside soprano Kim and tenorAntoun are baritone Gregory Dahl (Enrico), bass Oleg Tsibulko (Raimondo), tenor Mario Bahg (Arturo),Àand bass-baritone Rocco Rupolo (Normanno). Mezzo-soprano Florence Bourget, an artist-in-residence at the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, completes the cast in the role of Alice. Italian conductorFabrizio Ventura conducts theOrchestre Métropolitain and the Opéra de Montréal Chorus (prepared by Claude Webster). Stagedirection is by Michael Cavanagh.

The three-hour opera, which premiered in 1839, is in three acts, in Italian, with English and Frenchsurtitles.

It’s on at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts Nov. 9, 12, and 14 at 7:30 pm, and Nov.17 at 2pm.

Tickets: $30 to $157.

Info and tickets: oss.ticketmaster.com or 514-985-2258

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