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Pacific Opera Victoria.

There were neither intellectualized conceptions nor abstract designs for stage director Diana Leblanc and set and costume designer Leslie Frankish in Pacific Opera Victoria's Lucia di Lammermoor. They went straight for the opera's Gothic heart, with gloomy catacombs and mist-enshrouded castle courtyards the perfect melodramatic backdrop to the vicious power struggles between the Ravenswoods and the Ashtons. Leblanc's direction, ff slightly stagy, was lean and fluid, with movement always dramatically linked to the music.

John Avey's dark baritone was ideal for venting Enrico's consuming wrath while Marc Hervieux, as Edgardo, iris adversary, matched him with his forceful, impetuous tenor, a huge, open voice with enormous promise. Tenor Terence Mierau, a sturdy Normanno, and bass-baritone Thomas Goerz, a duplicitous Raimondo, completed the central foursome.

Caught in the middle of it all is the hapless Lucia, sung with a beguiling combination of commanding virtuosity and appealing vulnerability by Laura Whalen. Erin Cunes, as Lucia's faithful companion, Alisa, perfectly gauged her pliant mezzo to be a demure complement to Whalen's soprano. All six principals combined in exquisite ensemble for the famous Act II sextet. Clad in the de rigueur blood-soaked white dress, Whalen burst through the bewildered onstage crowd for a truly show-stopping Mad Scene. It was eerie to witness Lucia's psychological disintegration as portrayed by Whalen; the prodigious resources of talent and technique upon which she drew to portray it were most impressive.

Conductor-in-residence Giuseppe Pietraroia roused the pit orchestra to full-blooded, Italianate ardor for Donizetti's heart-on-sleeve melodies. The ladies, knights and flunkeys of the Lammermoor entourage were realistically acted and tautly sung by Robert Holliston's well-drilled Pacific Opera Chorus. Even if not quite note-perfect, this Lucia was a captivating night at the opera.
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Author:Jordan, Robert
Publication:Opera Canada
Date:Dec 22, 2003
Words:282
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