Having stepped in for the recently-pregnant Anna Netrebko, Damrau adds Donizetti's bel canto masterpiece to the ever-expanding list of great roles comprising her professional repertoire. At the Met alone, she has performed Konstanze in last season's Die Entf‹hrung aus dem Serail, Queen of the Night in Die Zauberfl‹te, Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos and Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia.
The young superstar - who earned the German honorific title of Kammers‹nger (akin to a knighthood for accomplished singers) in 2007 - will close out 2008 as the title character in H‹nsel und Gretel at London's Royal Opera House before returning to the Met in April to sing Gilda in Rigoletto.
Damrau recently said of her current project, "I consider Lucia to be a darker cousin of Romeo and Juliet. Both stories share the themes of revenge, female subjugation, and the political suppression of true love. Though in Lucia's case, her madness makes the drama all the more biting as she unravels right before our eyes."
The critics seem to be impressed. The AP's Mike Silverman praised Damrau's voice as "robust, with house-filling high notes and expert ornamentation. But it's no mere exercise of vocal fireworks; there's a wonderful expressiveness in the way she modulates her tone and shapes the melodic line to fit the emotional moment."
Of her famous "Mad Scene," Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times had this to say: "As Ms. Damrau played the daunting scene, the unhinged young woman - having stabbed to death the man she was forced to marry - was not vacant-eyed and spectral, like many Lucias. Instead she was fidgety and manic, all spastic bodily gestures as she lurched about the ballroom. That Ms. Damrau executed the scene's spiraling vocal roulades so accurately and held sustained tones with such penetrating steadiness lent a quality of eerie control to Lucia's madness. And her gleaming top notes filled the house."
Indeed, with such vocal and dramatic gifts and Zimmerman's greatly heralded, powerfully evocative staging with which to work, the soprano is given all the more opportunity to draw out the madness and nuanced characterization in one of opera's richest parts.
Joining her onstage are Polish tenor Piotr Beczala as Edgardo, Bulgarian baritone Vladimir Stoyanov as Enrico and Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov as Raimondo. Maestro Marco Armiliato mans the podium.
Beczala, a recipient of the 2007 Munich Opera Festival Prize, made his Met debut as the Duke in 2006's winter production of Rigoletto. Stoyanov is an acclaimed concert soloist whose operatic repertoire includes performances in Don Carlos, La traviata, Un ballo in maschera and L'elisir d'amore.
Abdrazakov - known for his performances in the title role of Moise et Pharaon at La Scala and as Mustapha in the Met's L'Italiana in Algeria - will reprise his Raimondo when the production returns for additional performances in January and February.
With new-mommmy Anna Netrebko (who gave birth to son Tiago Aruê£ Schrott on Sept. 5) scheduled to step into Lucia's blood-drenched wedding gown this winter, the production will also welcome Rolando Villaz‹n as Edgardo and Mariusz Kwiecien as Enrico.
Damrau, Beczala and Stoyanov will play their final Lucia of the season on Saturday, October 25 at 1 PM.
For more information and tickets visit www.metopera.org
Read more from Damrau in the Playbill Arts Feature Article, The Women.
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All photos by Ken Howard for the Metropolitan Opera.