SPARS Code: A-D
Number of Discs: 2
Format: APE (image+cue)
Size: 660 MB
Lucia di Lammermoor, opera
Composed by Gaetano Donizetti
Performed by London Symphony Orchestra
with Keith Erwen, Bruno Hoffmann, Carlo Bergonzi, Patricia Kern, Piero Cappuccilli, Osian Ellis, Justino Diaz, Beverly Sills, William Bennett, Adolf Dallapozza
Conducted by Thomas Schippers
I owned this recording on vinyl many years ago and have just got around to purchasing it on CD. How I’ve managed to live so long without this recording being restored to my musical collection is a real mystery to me. It truly is one of the best (if not the best) recordings of that Donizetti favorite Lucia di Lammermoor.
First of all, Thomas Schippers was a wonderful conductor especially of opera; he was a conductor that truly loved opera–it shows in his recordings and in this recording in particular. You are made fully aware from the very beginning that he takes Lucia seriously–he really conducts the hell out of the score (look at some of the recording photographs of him in action and listen to the second half of the sextet–he literally whips the orchestra and singers into a frenzy). He died much too soon! What he does for this opera is make it truly exciting, emotional, vital and dynamic–something not heard too often in recordings of Lucia. (I find him to be far more exciting and thrilling than Karajan’s live recording with Callas) Of course, his task was made somewhat easy since he had a spectacular group of singers to work with!
Sills was at her peak!! For those that only can think of her by her nickname Bubbles and have the erroneous idea that she was just funny, nice, bubbly and just so “un-prima donna like” , not being a really serious singer need only to listen to this recording. You fully realize that no matter how many Johnny Carson and Carol Burnett appearances she made she WAS a great singer/musician and took her art VERY seriously. She rings every emotion out of Lucia that can be rung while singing every ornamentation and high note that can be sung, musically, in the role using the ornamentations and high notes to express Lucia’s frail state of mind–listen how her trills sound more and more frantic as her “madness” progresses. The glass harmonica is a wonderful touch in the “Mad Scene”–Donizetti certainly had the right idea–it gives a truly eerie feel to the scene far better, I feel, than just the flute. I just love that one gets the the feeling, from Sills’ singing in the first act, that Lucia is not too well in the head from the get go so that when we get around to the “Mad Scene” you feel that this poor child has just reached the “end of her rope” and has simply gone completely loopy. (I feel that she would have killed anything that got into her bed that night). Sills certainly sings her that way and it makes perfect sense. This opera, of course, is NOT just written for the soprano star (though, I’m sure, there are those that think so) the tenor and baritone have a lot to do also and what a line-up in this recording–Bergonzi and Cappucilli–kids, it does not get any better than that for a recording of Lucia.
Bergonzi and Cappucilli are thrilling. I really feel that they inspire La Sills to greater heights!. What luxury casting. (There is also Justino Diaz in a small role!!)
If you want a truly exciting and memorable recording of that old “war-horse” of an opera, Lucia di Lammermoor, do yourself a favor and buy this recording. If nothing else, you will discover why Beverly Sills dominated the soprano scene (especially here in America) in the 70s, and discover that there was far more to her than just being “Bubbles”!