Here is another Renata Scotto Lucia which has come available, and it is one of her best. This performance is one of three which the soprano sang in May 1967, at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. Again it is the cast and the conductor that make this outing memorable. Along with Riccardo Muti, Gianandrea Gavazzeni was one of Scotto’s favorite conductors with whom she worked during the first two decades of her career. And since Gavazzeni was a supreme Donizettian conductor — witness the historical La Scala revival of Anna Bolena with Maria Callas and Giulietta Simionato in 1957 — his work here is of the same high caliber. Scotto not only sounds vocally secure but thoroughly involved in her portrayal . For these performances, it’s obvious she felt completely comfortable in Gavazzeni’s hands. She even ventures to add as many high E flats as possible, some of which she holds till breath’s end that no doubt will please her fans.
Scotto’s approach emphasizes Lucia’s emotional fragility and the loss of Edgardo’s love as the main reasons for Lucia’s emotional breakdown. She starts her portrayal with a lovely and intense “Regnava nel silenzio,” where Lucia relates her encounter with the ghostly vision of a young girl. Lucia’s unraveling begins when she is confronted by Enrico, her brother, who demands she agree to a political marriage in order to save their sagging fortune. In the second act finale, which contains the famous sextet, it is Lucia’s sorrow in having to sign the marriage contract and Edgardo’s fury at her betrayal, that begins her descent into complete mental disintegration. In the famous Mad Scene, Scotto shows Lucia’s madness is a result of both her intense grief over Edgardo’s abandonment and her inability to fight the familial forces that overpower her. For Scotto, Lucia dies from a broken heart.
Throughout the performance, Scotto combines Donizetti’s heartbreaking lyricism with the emotional intensity in Salvatore Cammarano’s poetic text.
1967 finds tenor Jaime Aragall voice at its most beautiful which Scotto attested to in an Opera News article. In their first act duet, “Veranno a te” both singers interpret one of Donizetti’s most beautiful musical moments with a dramatic truth clearly demonstrating why bel canto is really beautiful singing.
In the 60s, Verdi baritones still wanted to sing Enrico. Carlo Meliciani showers his rich, dark sound all over the role with a straight forward interpretation. This brother tolerates no nonsense: he wants things to go his way.
Gavazzeni’s conducting gives every musical instrument in Donizetti’s score its full value. His conducting at the end of the second act ensemble following both sections of the sextet reveals an artist totally in charge of the opera; it also reveals his great love and admiration for the composer. What an outstanding gift for opera lovers!
Premiere Opera, LTD CD2866-2