"Mad props to the Met for a brilliant new Lucia"
(New York Daily News)
"Stellar team stages exciting new Lucia at the Met"
"Diva Dessay Glistens ..."
"Mad to the bone"
(New York Post)
"Opening Night at the Met: Natalie Dessay Falls on Her A**, the Times Applauds"
(New York Magazine Online)
That last headline, smart-alecky though it may be, captures some of what was extraordinary about the opening-night performance. In her Act I scene at the fountain, Dessay's Lucia, all keyed up with love and cabaletta for her Edgardo, jumped from one stage rock down to another stage rock as she was singing away — only to slip on the proverbial Scottish banana peel and go splat!
Our Natalie did not miss a single note. (We who were watching the simulcast down in Times Square couldn't really tell that anything unusual had happened.) The Times was right to applaud: "Born actress that she is, she just kept singing," wrote critic Anthony Tommasini, "shrugging her shoulders as if to say, 'What are you going to do?,' then finished the aria in triumph. Her response was actually in character for a young woman all giddy in love."
Dessay outdid herself in the Mad Scene, with "a visceral depth ... not likely seen or heard since the days of Callas" (Eric Myers in Variety). The performance was "riveting," said the AP's Mike Silverman, "in part because she conveys frenzy mainly through looks and gestures that seem organically connected to her vocalism." "She also sang," wrote John von Rhein in The Chicago Tribune, "spinning lyrical sighs with the utmost delicacy, tossing off every ornate trill, scale and roulade with uncanny agility and fierce abandon." The audience cheered frantically when it was all over.
The cast's other principals — baritone Mariusz Kwiecien as Lucia's desperate brother Enrico, tenor Marcello Giordani as her beloved Edgardo, bass-baritone John Relyea as her concerned tutor and minister, Raimondo — got plenty of praise as well. Young tenor Stephen Costello won particular approval for his Met debut as Lucia's hapless bridegroom — which bodes well for October 25, when he steps into the role of Edgardo for one performance.
We offer below some glimpses of Mary Zimmerman's staging, which receives eight more performances through October 25 and another three March 5-13, 2008. (No pictures of Natalie's pratfall, though — these are all from the dress rehearsal.)
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All photos by Ken Howard / Metropolitan Opera.