"She runs upstage screaming and then sits on the stairs laughing maniacally" is the new "weeping bitterly, she consents to the horrible bargain"

That’s a bit of the description of Natalie Dessay‘s Lucia mad scene, as dress-rehearsed at the Met earlier today and reported by La Cieca’s spy. The complete report (including SPOILERS!) follows:

I’m sure some people will be up in arms over the production. It is set in the mid-19th century. The costumes are decent. Mariusz Kwiecien sounded good although he seemed to oversing at times, but I attribute that too the before noon rehearsal time. At any rate, he sounded amazing. In “Regnava nel silenzio,” Zimmerman has an actress appear as the ghost that Lucia sings about. I’m sure some people will get their panties in a knot over it, but I think it was done pretty well.

In the mad scene, the set has a grand spiral stairway which leads to an open hallway which runs the entire length of the stage. Stage left is the bridal room. The top of the stairs is downstage right. Lucia enters wiping the blood of the dagger on her veil and then crosses to the top of the stairs. Just before she sings her first line, she runs down the stairs almost to the bottom of the stairway.

On the lines, “Un gelo me serpeggia nel sen! trema ogni fibra! vacilla il piè!” She slowly slumps to the stairs. She lies down on the step and then, fainting, rolls down the two steps to the stage floor. She eventually crosses downstage to the prompter’s box where she sings much of the scene on her back. She sings, “Sparsa è di rose!” after holding up her bloody veil.

Later, she runs upstage screaming and then sits on the stairs laughing maniacally. Between verses of “Spargi d’amaro pianto”, a doctor administers a shot (morphine?) which prompts the ornamentation of the second verse. Dessay is completely committed to the stage directions, so it works. I think she sounded good. I wish I had remembered my opera glasses. I was in the family circle.

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