Under duress: Giorgio Caoduro and Emma Matthews. Photo: Jeff Busby
Until December 15
JOHN Doyle's daringly minimalist new production of Lucia seems a huge gamble. The austere staging, with barely a prop, throws the singers into stark relief and focuses the attention tightly on the musical values. But with an extremely strong cast like this it moves much closer to the sure thing it was on Monday night - sure in the sense of assured, dramatic and compelling.
Aldo Di Toro as would-be lover Edgardo was sweet-toned, and sensitive - perhaps his finest OA role yet - with a moving rapport with Emma Matthews (Lucia) in their Act I duet. Powerful baritone Giorgio Caoduro was full of vocal menace as Lucia's bullying brother Enrico, while young bass David Parkin as the chaplain grew in stature through the evening. Teresa La Rocca and Stephen Smith were assured in the lesser roles - the famous sextet was magnificent - and the chorus was excellent as usual.
But the evening belonged to Matthews. She was straight into top gear, effortlessly floating her high opening notes in the Act I duet, superbly sanguinary and spell-binding in the demanding mad scene (with authentic glass harmonica) - a star at the height of her powers. Matthews has been marvellous in everything from Handel to Berg, but bel canto is her element.
Conductor Guillaume Tourniaire was in complete command throughout - even in the last bar when a particularly robust flourish sent his baton cartwheeling entertainingly above him. The whole production had gone through hoops, but emerged triumphantly.