Music by Gaetano Donizetti
Libretto by Salvadore Cammarano
based on Sir Walter Scott's novel The Bride of Lammermoor
February 12, 14, 18, 20, 2015, at 8 pm
Matinée February 22 at 2:30 pm
In Italian with English Surtitles
Pre-performance talk 1 hour before curtain
In the brooding Scottish lowlands, it is men who call the shots. Clan rivalries, political maneuvering, and ancient vendettas leave no place for a woman who falls in love with the wrong man.
Lucia is caught in the brutal web of her brother's manipulation, her lover's jealous rage, and the implacable enmity between their two clans. When she is bullied into an arranged marriage, her fragile spirit is shattered.
In the most celebrated mad scene in all of opera, Donizetti's entrancing melodic lines entwine round Lucia's unraveling coloratura. This is the archetype of romantic bel canto opera ... tempestuous passions, murder, madness, and doom, spun out in glorious song.
As the opera begins, the Scottish families of Ravenswood and Lammermoor are engaged in a long-standing feud. For the moment, Enrico (Lord Henry Ashton) of Lammermoor has prevailed; he has taken over the Ravenswood estates and installed himself and his sister Lucia in Ravenswood Castle. Edgardo, the last of the Ravenswoods, now lives at Wolf's Crag, a gloomy, semi-ruined tower by the sea.
However, Enrico's financial and political situation is now so precarious that he sees only one way out – Lucia must marry the influential nobleman, Lord Arturo Bucklaw.
Act 1, Scene 1. The Grounds of Ravenswood Castle
As his men search the grounds for an intruder, Enrico complains that Lucia has refused to even consider marrying Lord Bucklaw. Raimondo, the chaplain, counsels patience: the girl is still in mourning for her mother and isn't ready to think of love. Normanno, captain of the guard, contends that, on the contrary, Lucia has fallen passionately in love with a stranger who saved her from a bull. Normanno is sure this man, who meets her secretly every morning, is none other than Edgardo, the sworn enemy of the Lammermoor family.
Enrico flies into a rage (Cruda, funesta smania), which intensifies when his men return to report they have sighted the intruder, who is indeed Edgardo. As Raimondo tries to calm him, Enrico swears vengeance on both his sister and her lover.
Act 1, Scene 2. Twilight, by a Fountain in the Park
Lucia, accompanied by Alisa, waits nervously for Edgardo. She tells Alisa that she never sees the fountain without shivering, for legend has it that a jealous Ravenswood killed his sweetheart on this very spot. Lucia recalls that the spectre of the murdered girl once appeared to her (Ragnava nel silenzio) and the waters of the fountain turned to blood. Alisa warns Lucia that this is a dangerous omen and urges her to give up Edgardo. But Lucia rhapsodizes about her lover – he brings light to her days, and being with him is heaven on earth (Quando rapito in estasi).
Edgardo arrives, explaining that he has asked for this one last meeting with Lucia because he is about to leave on a political mission to France. He wants to make peace with Enrico and ask him for Lucia's hand in marriage. Lucia tells him that is impossible and begs him to keep their love secret. Edgardo responds bitterly that Enrico has robbed him of his father and his heritage, yet there seems no end to his hatred. He reminds Lucia that when his father died, he swore vengeance against Enrico (Sulla tomba che rinserra). Despite his love for Lucia, he has not forgotten that vow. Lucia begs him to calm himself and to think only of love.
Edgardo decides that they should exchange marriage vows then and there. He and Lucia exchange rings and call on heaven to witness their pledges of eternal love. As they say farewell, they sing of how painful their time apart will be (Verranno a te sull'aure).
Act 2, Scene 1. Enrico's apartments, several months later
Determined to salvage his family fortunes, Enrico has arranged for Arturo Bucklaw to marry Lucia, but Lucia's persistent refusal has him worried. Normanno reassures him: the letters between Edgardo and Lucia have been intercepted, and Normanno has forged a letter to prove that Edgardo is involved with another woman. The wedding guests are gathering, and Normanno leaves to escort Arturo to the castle.
Lucia enters; she is pale and anguished, but still defiant. She tells Enrico she cannot marry Arturo, for she has made a solemn promise to another. When Enrico shows her the forged letter, she is so devastated that she longs only for death. Enrico exhorts her to agree to the marriage – his honour and his very life are at stake, and he will haunt her forever if she betrays him.
Act 2, Scene 2. The Grand Hall of the Castle
Raimondo tells Lucia that her vow to Edgardo was not blessed by a clergyman and so means nothing. He urges her to marry Arturo for the sake of her family and her mother's memory. Her resistance to the marriage finally crumbles.
As the wedding ceremony begins, Enrico explains to Arturo that if Lucia seems despondent, it is only because she is still mourning her mother. Enrico orders Lucia to sign the marriage contract. At the moment she finally does so, Edgardo bursts into the hall.
In the sextet that follows, the characters express their emotional turmoil: Edgardo is torn between rage and love; Enrico is stricken with remorse as he sees Lucia's profound distress; Raimondo, Arturo, Alisa, and the chorus are horrified and moved by her plight: Like a withered rose she stands between death and life! Anyone who does not feel for her has a tiger's heart in his breast.
Enrico and Arturo demand that Edgardo leave at once or be killed. Raimondo intervenes and shows Edgardo the marriage contract. Edgardo throws his ring at Lucia, demands hers back, and then, cursing her, leaves in a fury.
Act 3, Scene 1. The Wolf's Crag That night, Enrico rides through a storm to Edgardo's tower, taunts him with the news that Lucia and Arturo are married, and challenges him to a duel. They agree to meet at dawn in the graveyard at Ravenswood.
Act 3, Scene 2. The Great Hall
The wedding celebrations are in full swing when Raimondo enters with terrible news: Lucia has lost her mind and stabbed her new husband to death. Amid the wedding guests' expressions of horror and grief, Lucia enters.
She recalls falling in love with Edgardo (Il dolce suono) and imagines that they are about to be married. For a moment she hallucinates that the ghost of the girl who was killed by the fountain comes between them. As Lucia breathes in the fragrance of incense (Ardon gl'incensi), she rejoices that she and Edgardo will be together. Give me your hand...Oh, happy day! At last I am yours, you are mine!
Enrico enters, and his anger quickly turns to remorse as Lucia agonizes over her memory of Edgardo's rage at her apparent betrayal. She swears that Enrico forced her to sign the wedding contract and that she always loved Edgardo. She ends with a final prayer (Spargi d'amaro pianto), begging him to scatter his tears of anguish over her earthly remains and promising to pray for him: Only when you join me will Heaven be beautiful for me!
Act 3, Scene 3. The Graveyard of the Ravenswood Family
Surrounded by the graves of his ancestors, Edgardo awaits Enrico, lamenting Lucia's faithlessness and hoping he will be killed in the duel (Fra poco a me ricovero). A group of wedding guests approach and tell him what has happened. Lucia is dying and calling out his name. As Edgardo is about to rush to see her one last time, Raimondo arrives to say she is dead. Realizing now that she has loved him all along, Edgardo vows to meet her in heaven (Tu che a Dio spiegasti l'ali) and stabs himself as the horrified mourners pray for God to forgive him.
TAKE THE OPERA BUS: to the Sunday Matinée. Bus runs from the Saanich Peninsula and Up-Island.