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  • Your Reaction: Lucia di Lammermoor

Your Reaction: Lucia di Lammermoor

What did you think of Katie Mitchell's Royal Opera production of Donizetti's tragedy?

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

8 April 2016 at 11.12am | 142 Comments

 

Press reviews:
Arts Desk ★★★★
Financial Times ★★★★
Evening Standard ★★★★
Music OMH ★★★★
Bachtrack (Cast B)★★★★
Bachtrack
Guardian ★★★
The Stage
★★★
Daily Express  ★★★
WhatsOnStage 3
Londonist ★★★
Telegraph ★★
A Younger Theatre (No star rating, very positive)

What did you think of Lucia di Lammermoor?
Share your thoughts via the comments below.

Lucia di Lammermoor runs until 19 May 2016. Tickets are still available.

The production is staged with generous philanthropic support from Mrs Aline Foriel-Destezet, Hélène and Jean Peters, Mrs Philip Kan, The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund and The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation Cover Awards. It is a co-production with Greek National Opera.

Lucia di Lammermoor will be relayed live to cinemas around the world on 25 April 2016. Find your nearest cinema and sign up to our mailing list.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

8 April 2016 at 11.12am

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged by Katie Mitchell, Lucia di Lammermoor, Production, review, Social Media, twitter, your reaction

This article has 142 comments

  1. Jane responded on 8 April 2016 at 11:42am Reply

    Highlight? Glass harmonica and Diana Damrau, just magical.

    Cut the murder scene. When the audience laughs you've got it wrong, it was a farce.

    And does no one think of the effect of watching such a terrible miscarriage, with so much blood, on the women in the audience? I can, just, see why this was there in the terms of the production - it does make very obvious why Lucia goes mad. But, I think the publicity material should have been clearer, doesn't the ROH have some duty of care to the audience?

    • Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer) responded on 8 April 2016 at 5:19pm

      Hi Jane,

      We understand that some of the content of Katie Mitchell’s production of Lucia di Lammermoor can be upsetting to some audience members, which is why we issued forewarning about the adult themes in the production.

      We find it difficult to warn in detail about all potential aspects of a production that could be upsetting. We hope by alerting audience members of the scenes of sex and violence, that we draw attention to the adult nature of the piece and the production.

      All best,
      Rose

    • Mike Kennedy responded on 21 April 2016 at 11:16pm

      A perverse farce,.

    • George ryder responded on 16 May 2016 at 11:19pm

      16th may just seen tonight's performance of Lucia and thought the whole cast and production was brillent. Alex kurzak was stunning and Stephen Costello gave a great performance. It is a shame the critic's made such an issue over the sex etc, they must live in another world as it was tame compared to what you see on eastenders! Bringing up to date a little actually worked for this production. A great opera well done all!

  2. Peter Lewis responded on 8 April 2016 at 11:51am Reply

    The gratuitous sex and violence didn't bother me. I'm a fan of Game of Thrones so this is mild in comparison. I understand what the director was trying to do with the split screen but it really distracted from the singing for me. A fantastic duet where your eyes were distracted by the stuff going on in the next room. As for the dry humping during the first act duet, I couldn't imagine Pavarotti and Sutherland in this production!

  3. matteo gallanti responded on 8 April 2016 at 11:54am Reply

    I thought it was a brilliant production:
    musically , with a great cast
    a good conductor (except in the first scene where there was some mismatch between orchestra and chorus )
    and very clever, profound production: there is a very strong and detailed preparation with the actors / singers , a total fidelity to the plot and the libretto
    Why people booed? well london audience is made mostly of old bourgeois people given the prices and that the way it is... but really a beautiful and interesting reading of a classic belcanto opera

    • Martin Atherton responded on 9 April 2016 at 9:03am

      I'm sorry, but I really think it is arrogant of you to dismiss your fellow audience members as "old, bourgeois people". With respect, who are you to say that? And what difference does age make? In any case, I'm not sure that "old, bourgeois people" are particularly likely to boo. I didn't much like some of the precepts of Katie Mitchell's production, not because I was challenged by it, but because it seemed to me she was placing herself above the text in some of what she did. Having said that, many aspects of both performance and production were strikingly brilliant.

  4. Peter Lewis responded on 8 April 2016 at 11:55am Reply

    I also meant to add that the water torture of the pouring tap (though the bath was filled from underneath) during the final act was also a shame as it distracted from the glorious singing going on. I didn't care for the booing though, and never do. Fortunately the cheers drowned them out.

    • Maria responded on 8 April 2016 at 5:14pm

      I agree. If there is one thing I could change in this production is to turn the water off in the tub! It was distracting.
      Overall, I enjoyed the production, although I understand the split scenes it could be distracting at times. And although the audience laughed during the killing scene, it did portray the horror of murder and that it is not easy.
      I cheered at the end (even though I did not love this production) as I think the booes were uncalled for.
      Well done for trying new things! And finally, as regards the singing - ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT! what a performance by Damrau. Will likely go again if I can find a cheap ticket.

    • Rosalind Riley responded on 14 April 2016 at 10:30am

      I have been a professional performer for most of my adult life, and if a director treated me the way Katie Mitchell treated the male stars of this opera I'd walk out of the production. OK I know that's easy to say when it's not my own job on the line, but I was appalled by the treatment of the men's duet (which I could NOT focus on while "Carry On Murder" was going on next door) and by the running tap in the last scene. I would just want to stop singing, but of course the blokes were top pros and kept it going with their marvellous voices.

      All the dramatic tension was also rinsed out of the scenes - Raimondo's aria announcing Arturo's death became completely dramatically unnecessary, and we knew Edgardo was going to storm in because we'd already seen him. Feeble.

      I feel privileged to have heard Diana Damrau sing the mad scene with the glass harmonica, which was astounding.

      I should add I saw the DR and did not pay for a ticket - for which I am grateful.

      And to the commenter above who asks why Edgardo was fossicking about in the wardrobe - it's because the director wanted to bring him onstage and the only place she could do it was the bedroom set and the only thing available to do is fossick in the wardrobe.

  5. Kat responded on 8 April 2016 at 11:57am Reply

    Brilliant Lucia and Damrau shines in it. After THE email I was expecting some "Dario Argento meets Donizzetti" production, but the set design is actually quite handsome and very clever, not distracting at all.

    ***Spoilers follow, do stop reading if that concerns you***

    The sexual scene in act 1 adds a nice tension to the love duet, and I liked the resulting lack of credibility of Edgardo's attempt to threaten Lucia that he will carry on with the revenge of his father's death instead of continuing the affair. ACT 2: one of the press reviews pointed out that a victorian gentleman would not strom into his siters bedroom. I was thinking the same thing, but than I figured that it added nicely to the depiction of the psychological violence that Lucia is exposed to. ACT3: the only thing that did not work for me was the fact that the murder was clearly premeditated (i think attempted marital rape and self defence stabbing would have been more natural, but I can live with this Mitchell's choice), and as the murder scene was going on, i kept thinking "where is all the blood". When Lucia miscarriages, it actually seems like a more natural reason to go mad.
    CAST: Damrau is fantastic. I dont care about the flaws in her lower register, and very occational bad phrasing. The duet with glass harmonica was haunting. Castronovo is a great singer, but a lousy actor. The bit in act 2, where he is supposed to be cursing the moment when he fell in love with Lucia, and he doesn't manage to sound neither angry nor desperate... However, the almost naked scene is pleasant enough to watch, so who cares if he cannot act. :-) Both Youn and Tezier are superb.

    One last thought: I am not sure what kind of opera goers felt the need to boo Mitchell yesterday, but in my opinion people need to realize that opera as an art form is doomed unless new audiences are attracted to it. My boyfriend, who is not an experienced opera goes, enjoyed the performance very much (while he almost fell asleep during the traditional, lavish, classic Traviata). What is the point in saying that this and that was unnecessary or disrespectful to the librettist or the composer. What would you rather see in a new production of this popular opera? New scotish-themed dresses, men in kilts and rearranged furniture on stage compared to the previous production? If, as someone said, you really want to be left with your imagination, well, I suggest you play a Sutherland record and enjoy a cup of tea in the comfort of your living room.

  6. Terence McGinity responded on 8 April 2016 at 12:37pm Reply

    I loved this production. I believed in the relationships. Orchestra and stage where beautifully matched. Brave direction from Katie Mitchell. Wonderful singing and acting.
    Well done RoH!

  7. Paul responded on 8 April 2016 at 12:42pm Reply

    A Coen bros. murder which is silly. Generally great/good singing. The split stage distracting but does not really illuminate...i know how dresses work. Oh btw Turn the blinking tap off....was this production sponsored by Thames Water?

  8. Graham Thomas responded on 8 April 2016 at 1:10pm Reply

    Dreadful leaden over fussy interpretation distracted from some glorious singing. Awful split staging mean most of the evening was spent looking at an enormous wardrobe and overall the "interpretation" meant that any sense of period or genuine dramatic feeling was none existent. You can't present Lucia as a modern woman - that's the point - she is a victim of circumstance and her period and that is her tragedy- cobbling together banal scenes of domesticity and adding two phantom figures (really?) into the mix just muddied the focus even more. Best enjoyed with eyes shut but that won't help with the leaden conducting..

  9. Michael responded on 8 April 2016 at 1:25pm Reply

    I felt sorry for the singers who had to cope with all the extraneous business while trying to give their considerable best. So please cut the water flow against which Mr Castronovo has to sing his final aria, please cut the ludicrously inept sex scene which provoked laughs, and please give the mad scene more room instead of cramming it in half the stage. And stop the acting ladies from walking in front of Lucia while she is singing

  10. Jorrod responded on 8 April 2016 at 2:50pm Reply

    Not a fan of agenda-driven directors, and this Lucia was a disappointment: fussy, messy and - worst of all – unintentionally laughable (the very awkward and mechanical sex scene, an Arturo that would not die, ghosts climbing in from open windows amongst others).

    The musical side was mostly upstaged by the unending series of unnecessary side shows. The singing, sadly, suffered as a consequence (although Youn’s Raimondo apparently was not given the memo and simply ‘parked and barked’).

    And after an evening where gender roles were presumably being scrutinised by a feminist director, male singers still didn’t get flowers at curtain call.

    I am with Rupert.

    • Mrs R L Murgatroyd responded on 3 November 2017 at 9:40am

      I couldn't agree more Jorrod, I should think Donizetti was turning in his grave!! I saw the final dress rehearsal & altho' all the voices were great, music, of course wonderful, what a messy production, as you so rightly say, femail agenda! All those split scenes, so confusing & unnecessary!!

  11. David responded on 8 April 2016 at 2:59pm Reply

    Firstly, I thought the singing was very good. Damrau was a solid Lucia and Castronovo was a decent Edgardo. The glass harmonica was marvellous and worked worked very well together with Damrau's solo. Oren's musical direction was fine, albeit not thrilling. As usual he makes a lot of noise, it would have been nice to have that passion demonstrate itself more through the orchestra performance. (Some commentators say he was uninterested, I am guessing he lost interest after seeing what's happening on stage during the rehearsals.)

    Rupert Christiansen is right. Lucia was stroppy, duplicitous and sexually aggressive.

    I have several questions about this production? Why is Lucia wearing ugly male clothes in Act 1 during the fountain scene? Is this to satisfy Katie Mitchell's desire to put a butch lesbian idol at the ROH centre stage?

    Why need to invent a sex scene between Lucia and Edgardo, which leads to pregnancy and a an exceptionally bloody miscarriage? Is that so that the stupid audience can understand why Lucia went mad, because they are too stupid to empathise with the intricacies of a pressurised aristocratic environment and an unwanted utilitarian marriage?

    Why leave the water running throughout the final scene of Act 3? Is it so that we can be audibly distracted from the beautiful singing? That is simply stupid, and extremely inconsiderate to the audience.

    The stage design is interesting, although ignores view from the side seats by effectively covering the top half of the stage. I did not mind the split staging, that others found distracting. I thought it was interesting.

    I also don't mind novel productions that add value to the original, and sometimes even if they don't. However, this production is patronising, self-serving and insulting to its audience.

    Also, I don't know why ROH direction keeps "flagging" that this is a feminist production? What is feminist about it? Is it feminist because the director is lesbian? Because of excessive blood everywhere? Because Lucia is aggressive and defiant? Please someone at ROH, tell me. What kind of image does the direction have about its audience? I would be happy, keen even to see a feminist production, but this wasn't it. This was simply a bad production.

    • Rosemary Murgatroyd responded on 3 November 2017 at 2:05pm

      Surfice to say what a waste of such a great opera, I agree with most of what you say David, but don't compare it to Game of Thrones.! Rupert Christianson is totally right. Such a shame to mess this great opera up...

  12. Steve Wilson-Beales responded on 8 April 2016 at 4:02pm Reply

    Absolute belter of an opera

    • Anastasia responded on 8 April 2016 at 4:46pm

      This production is such a great example of how to tell an old story in a way that makes you think why it all happened in the first place. This is the first time I felt that I understand what Lucia had to go through, while crowds of men went on and on discussing her, deciding on what she could and could not do and what future holds for her. Katie Mitchell and Vicki Mortimer, bravissime! I am looking forward to the return of you Written on Skin next season. PS: It is true that the sound of running water was rather loud in the last act.

  13. Rosalind, responded on 8 April 2016 at 5:34pm Reply

    One of the funniest productions I have ever seen. The director obviously did not like the plot so decided to change it. She also seemed to find the singing rather dull, so diverted the audience's attention by having lots happening on the half of the stage where there was no singing so we would not have to bother with it.

    The singing was adequate but no one merited an ovation.

    What a fuss ROH made about such a damp squib.

  14. sh responded on 8 April 2016 at 5:36pm Reply

    If you could rethink the running tab, that would be marvellous. It didn't quite drown out the more quite singing for people higher up, but it was halfway there.

    Don't really know what I think of the production yet, so I booked a couple more tickets just to make sure :)

  15. Chiaki Ohashi responded on 8 April 2016 at 7:37pm Reply

    I did not detect genuine boos last night from the audience, but saw the production itself as “the” one massive boo delivered by the ROH against certain members of the opera-going public, who had reacted with nothing but scorn and cynicism over the past few weeks. The ‘Ring’-like trailer, Mitchell’s dramatic pre-performance talk, Damrau’s exaggerated warnings in the Guardian, all of them carefully laid out. Anger as well as anticipation created. Curtain up, and everything is overturned. Remember what Mitchell said? “A little complication we add in, which makes it even worse.” If booing is justified on our part in any way, it would be to acknowledge the fact that she dared to trifle with our imagination.

  16. Joanna responded on 8 April 2016 at 8:07pm Reply

    What’s wrong with the ROH audience? For all the productions’ faults (I agree there were some questionable choices, including the split set and a sex scene that should be nominated for the Bad Sex Awards), the cast delivered an outstanding performance in a piece that had originality and artistic integrity.

    In recent months I have been told off for not seating in my chair in exactly the correct angle and a friend was told to sit down during an attempted standing ovation. What’s wrong with these people?? And, more importantly, can’t they stay at home watching their VHS tapes of Dame Joan Sutherland instead?

    [Edited to conform to community guidelines]

    • Lisa responded on 12 April 2016 at 2:17pm

      Joanna, depending on where you sit, the people in front of you leaning forward/standing can completely block the view of the stage - it has happened to me, and unfortunately the only way around it is to ask people to sit back.

    • Brendan Quinn responded on 16 April 2016 at 5:32pm

      Joanna if you are in the front row of the ampitheatre and you lean forward the affect on the people behind you is to totally ecclipse the view of the stage for people 2 or 3 rows back. Please bear that in mind if you tend to lean forward. It is simply unfair on those behind you .

  17. Kate responded on 8 April 2016 at 10:13pm Reply

    I enjoyed Thursday’s performance, but I can’t give an opinion on the Katie Mitchell’s Lucia as I could hardly see it. Cheaper seats obviously have a poorer view of the stage – but in most operas this just means the set design looks a little odd (although some, eg La Traviata, look great from all angles), but the narrative and director’s concept can be seen and understood by everyone. Like others sitting on the far left high in the amphitheatre, the hanging screen and split stage meant that I could only see the front right corner of the stage. I therefore couldn’t see much of the explanatory action in the production, and so it appeared nonsensical.

    Staging a new production which only makes dramatic sense to those in more expensive seats contradicts the ROH's claims that it is not elitist.

  18. M.T. responded on 9 April 2016 at 9:50am Reply

    A seriously underwhelming production musically and theatrically with leaden conducting, a disappointing cast and a staging that seemed to be intent on distracting the audience from the musical element. Well now we know about the opera that Donizetti and his librettist should have written. It is such a pity that they did not realise it themselves.

    I was looking forward to this production and I was disappointed by it. The director added nothing to my understanding of the opera and this production will be added to the ever growing list of duds that have been staged at Covent Garden since Mr Holten took charge. I think that Mr Holten is deluding himself if he really believes that booing is, and always has been, a significant element in opera going in Bow Street. In the past you might have a lone booer on first nights now there are far more who boo. I imagine that they do so because they are increasingly dissatisfied by the productions that are being staged there.This is not the worst production that I have seen at the opera house during the Holten regime that accolade goes to the butchered Idomeneo of a few seasons back but this runs it pretty close.

    At a time when arts organisations are being forced to tighten their belts it is amazing how few bankable productions have made it onto the Covent Garden stage.

  19. Ekaterina N responded on 9 April 2016 at 12:26pm Reply

    I found split stage distracting, particularly murder scene with its unintended comical effect. I had to make an effort and concentrate on Charles Castronovo and Ludovic Tezier whose duet was somewhat spoilt by people's laughter at protracted efforts of Lucia and her maid to kill Lucia's new husband.

    As for ghosts, at the end they became just a nuisance as well as running water.

    Sex scene was just boring and not convincing in the sense that passion Lucia (victorian unmarried woman) must have had for Edgardo, passion that pushed her into sexual relation with him just did not come through.

    I agree with one of the contributors that singing was adequate not outstanding, One only has to listen to Joan Sutherland singing Lucia. For me Ludovic Tezier was the best of the cast.

  20. David Jessop responded on 9 April 2016 at 5:14pm Reply

    Lucia was a great let down for me and the whole thing was just plain silly. The director and her team had scant regard for either the music or the singers all of whom were relegated to 'also rans'. Some of the singing here was truly outstanding - Castronovo, Damrau (for the most part), Tezier and Youn really made this evening but they had to perform on half a stage - a feat difficult also for the excellent chorus who looked jammed in as though commuting on the Central Line! All singers knew that no one was looking at them of course. Our eyes were fixed on the absurdities in the other half of the stage. Is this really what directing opera is really about? Making sure no one watches the singers or listens to the music. Donizetti might have been a bit disappointed.
    As to the new story we were presented with. I felt we were shortchanged. The maid helped with the murder. Where was the noose in the last act? Lucia was clearly in her right mind when she murdered. Was she feigning madness then? Should there have been a double noose? Very silly production from non musical people. Catch it on Radio3 would be a good idea.

  21. Stevie responded on 9 April 2016 at 7:26pm Reply

    I think my safest option is to seek a refund before attending. I was prepared to give it a chance, but having seen these reviews and listened to the so called justifications.
    I really don't want an evening of being shocked and distressed yet again.
    I do like this opera musically and I can see this production has a fine cast. I think there is a great need for productions by those who have been through an Operatic career.
    I stopped watching National Theatre Production's a few years ago and may be closing time on Opera in the near future.

  22. Christof responded on 10 April 2016 at 11:54am Reply

    Booing is part of the opera experience, so let’s cut the feigned outrage. The reason for boo’s is not what so many like to promote; that we are shocked by sex, blood, rape, nakedness and gore. Not in the slightest. Been there, seen that, done that…since the days of Jesus Christ Superstar! But there is good reason to boo when a director blatantly puts his or her pedantic interpretation (ego?) ahead of the importance and greatness of the music, which after all, is what is integral to opera as an art form. And this we saw on numerous occasions in this Lucia where the music was a mere sideshow to some fussy stage direction. Despite very interesting themes being introduced, the directorial team shot themselves in the foot with several unforgivably clumsy scenes which should have been acknowledged long before the first live performance. Thus we had a tap running water so loudly that any honest appreciation of the singing was impossible. We had a theme of ghosts appearing so frequently that it just became banal and corny. We saw a laughable humpity-dumpity sex scene in time to the music that was embarrassingly pathetic – if you saw such a clumsy scene in a film, audience and critics alike would be scathing and laughing, but according to the opera novitiates, because this is opera we are now supposed to bow down to a director and find such amateurish staging as avant-garde! Most puerile of all was a murder scene of such over-blown silliness as to raise deserved laughs in the process, and the poor singers?…all the while, they were reduced to being an insignificant side-show next door. We even had two helpers clumsily have to help Lucia, in her madness, onto the billiard table with a push of the buttocks! Unfortunately 'die Inszenierung' is increasingly taking precedence at the cost of the music, the vocals especially. To deride those who boo merely as purists who are upset by some clumsily staged sex/rape scenes is to miss the point entirely. If I go back and see the same production of, let’s say, Tosca for example, 14 times but each time with a different cast, I do so not for the production but to hear the bravura of the singers. I greatly enjoy thoughtfully staged productions in any form but when you have a production which consciously places the music as a mere side-show to some clumsy stage direction, you won’t be getting the so called ‘purists’ (sic) coming back again and again, no matter the cast. For that reason the booing of this Lucia was neither knee-jerk nor predictable, but well deserved in my opinion.

  23. naomi layish responded on 10 April 2016 at 1:09pm Reply

    People devoid of imagination, who cannot respond to music, and feel that opera is 'irrelevant' should certainly rush to buy tickets. I note that eight hundred have already returned theirs, and I doubt all of them were elderly and middle class.
    Singers sign contracts months in advance and have no choice but to participate in
    such farcical productions (I can understand the laughter) if they don't want to lose money. ( Damrau must be bored out of her skull with this role to have agreed with such enthusiasm.)
    But I blame Pappano, as musical director of the ROH, and of course Kaspar Holten
    who presumably commissioned the production, for pandering to the current
    appetite for sensation and novelty. The critics who were able to applaud the singing while panning the production seem to have forgotten- unlike Verdi, Puccini, Donizetti and all the rest of those dull old composers that opera is music drama , not drama with music tacked on any old how. Mitchell seems to have thought that she could improve on Donizetti by adding what is 'not seen'
    showing a total insensitivity to the music,
    (try Salome or Electra, Mitchell) .But the worst is the insult to most of all the power of imagination .
    Finally a word to music critics. Why are your comments about the conductor always an afterthought? He happens to be, or should have been in Oren's case, the dynamic heart of opera.

  24. Patience Humphries responded on 10 April 2016 at 1:15pm Reply

    This production won't go down as one of the Opera House's greats. The sex scene was wooden and passionless. The young in the seats next to me were falling about laughing at the stabbing. It was a bit like boning a fish. A crazed woman would have stabbed viciously. This was not convincing. I loved the music and Charles Castronovo's singing was magical and he was rightly well applauded at the end. And much praise to Diana Damrau when I could hear her through the bath water. As far as the booing was concerned, opera-goers all over the world boo if they don't like the work. Why not¿ Must we react like the polite British?

  25. PS to Rose Slavin

    This production wasn't shocking. Just ludicrous.

    • Brendan Quinn responded on 18 April 2016 at 10:14am

      Quite right ridiculous and an insult to our intelligence, intellectually boring is my description.

  26. Rosemary McDonald responded on 10 April 2016 at 3:05pm Reply

    I cant say Im looking forward to it despite my love of this opera, and will probably leave my opera glasses for viewing from the ampitheatre at home - but rather than waste the ticket and transport costs I'll go and try and keep an open mind....but it shouldnt be like that should it? .....

  27. Alex Paul responded on 10 April 2016 at 10:18pm Reply

    Ho, Hum! Bel Canto meets Grand Guignol. All very original and relevant for some no doubt, but does no service to Donizetti nor does it show any awareness of the period or aesthetic in which this opera was composed. Like it or not, this is a work of the romantic period during which Scotland with its mists and mountains not to mention sylphs had become part of the artistic vocabulary of the time. This was a period which produced ballets such as La Sylphide and Giselle the plots of which audiences took at their face value rather than feeling the need for a clinical analysis of the situation in order to make it "relevant". Unfortunately in this age of "regietheater" directors are using opera as a peg on which to display their ingenuity or personal agenda in order to contrive subtexts and concepts which more often than not are totally at variance with the music and libretto and give rise to all sorts of anomalies and anachronisms. Katie Mitchell's "take"on Lucia was more logical than some but would have done far better service as a scenario for a contemporary opera on the subject of forced marriage rather than being foisted on a work from a totally different era. I didn't feel particularly shocked by the scenes of blood and violence but found them and the split screen staging distracting from the music and singing. For me, this production was yet another turkey served up by the ROH and cooked by a director more interested displaying her personal agenda rather than serving the needs of the music and libretto.

  28. Don responded on 11 April 2016 at 10:51pm Reply

    I was very disappointed with the production of Lucia at the ROH.
    I do not go to the opera to have this ‘-ism’ or that ‘–ism’ shoved down my throat.
    Some people have an automatic reflex when they see someone vomiting. What you want? To have members of the audience been sick on the people getting in front of them?
    Reducing the murder of Arturo to a comic scene was inappropriate to say the least. You can imagine the uproar if the murder victim had been woman instead of a man.
    There is nothing in the libretto to suggest that Lucia was pregnant before her marriage and the consequences of this.
    I feel that Donizetti’s heavenly masterpiece has been besmirched by this production where the soloists, chorus and orchestra were absolutely marvellous.
    The significant amount of booing at the end of the performance was proof enough that I was not alone in finding this production distasteful, arbitrary and pathetic.
    I shall not be going to any productions directed by Katie Mitchell. And will seriously consider whether I want to the ROH ever again.

    • C Maeder responded on 13 April 2016 at 5:13pm

      The problem with these so called Directors is that they do not respect the composer or the Libretto.Donizetti has written no music for this murder scene and there is nothing in the Libretto.The Munich production of the same Opera also with Damrau was excellent, also modern but with the text and the music respected.

    • Brendan Quinn responded on 16 April 2016 at 3:37pm

      The production was intellectually boring more than anything else. The woman who directed it Katie Mitchell clearly doesn't understand opera goers first and foremost go to hear opera singers sing. Running a tap over one of the finest tenor arias in the entire repertoire was an insult to the artist. Let's hope Katie Mitchell is never allowed such free rein to destroy a masterpiece such as Lucia. This production was nothing short of pathetic. Shame on the Royal Opera House for wasting Arts Council funding and patrons money by allowing one person to use the budget of public money and patrons money to satisfy her own crusade. She didn't do it particuarly well, clumsy buffoonery and bad stage management made this a forgettable night.

  29. Stephen Watkins responded on 12 April 2016 at 9:25am Reply

    I am quite happy that on the whole Donizetti creates cardboard characters. So often does Mozart. But I am not happy that what should be an evening of enjoying bel canto is turned into a show about a woman who has a miscarriage. The ridiculous murder will probably turn into into a hot ticket for all of the wrong reasons, which is probably the only reaction that the director will not be happy about, There are operas which will take this but Lucia is not a gesamtkunstwerk Donizetti has enough problems even getting himself into a minor key for fairly heavy altercations. if you really feel the need to make this point about the character of Lucia surely it would make more sense to comission a composer to write another opera on the same book with music which is going to reflect the type of Lucia which you want to portray.

    The mismatch between the music and the production is absurd. And actually the music did come first.

    It is more ridiculous then setting Meistersinger as the Eurovision song contest. Although Hans Sachs as Terry Wogan conjures up fascinating visions.

    If you must employ a director like this let her have a go at Salome or something else that is intentionally gruesome.

    As for the sex, well a bit silly and actually Avenue Q did that better with puppets anyway.

    It worries me that any public subsidy should be going into such a misguided production, it worries me that the artistic management should allow it. I would rater see the direction team return their fees and the run be finished as a run of concert versions. I would never want to prevent anyone from putting on this sort of a production, but they should do it at their own cost.

    And no I am no against experimental productions, Having seen castration in Act 2 of Meistersinger in Dresden and Leporello as an English Football Hooligan in Hanover and The Rhine as power station.

    Extend traditions by all means but not by distorting the plot of an opera so much as to make it almost unrecognisable and destroy the spirit and vision of the composer and the author of the original book. The details in this production distort everything and violate the artistic rights of both of these people. If you want to say and do these things on stage do them with a piece designed from them and not with my taxes.

  30. Michael Steel responded on 12 April 2016 at 9:48am Reply

    Attended last night's performance. I fully agree with Alex Paul ( previous comment).
    Donizetti's music in Lucia, contains outstanding examples of Bel Canto, completely overwhelmed by a production which distrusts a Covent Garden audience to use their imagination, as Donizetti intended. It was best "enjoyed" in a restricted view seat, as I had, to the right of the stage.
    I was at the first night of William Tell. The booing of the rape scene seemed to me to be generated by the audience's patience finally snapping, after a cliche-ridden and unattractive performance. Frankly, this was worse.
    I don't know whether Katie Mitchell enjoys opera but assaulting one's senses suggests that she does not. Hopefully when Kasper Holten goes,matters should improve, under a new person ,who is more sympathetic to his "customers".

  31. Geoff responded on 12 April 2016 at 10:10am Reply

    Boring evening. As others have said, dreary conducting; singing adequate rather than outstanding (glass harmonica worked better than ever though); and self-important but often incompetent direction with many wearying pauses. One of the most thrilling works in the repertoire reduced to a slow, clumsy and dull experience.

    Giving all the rest of my tickets back.

  32. Lucinda Jane Voss MacPherson responded on 12 April 2016 at 11:35am Reply

    I enjoyed the wonderful performances, thank you.

    The production didn't work for me. I didn't see much evidence of Lucia being a thinking woman and the speed with which she set about disrobing her lover gave the impression theirs wasn't primarily a meeting of minds. I imagine the running tap was to reference the fountain, impending doom etc, but the noise was an irritant competing with the beautiful music we wanted to hear. Similarly the split stage was distracting and the protracted murder scene ridiculous and unnecessary when the audience were trying to focus on the musical storytelling. Poor old Arturo really didn't deserve this, and it alienated me from Lucia, who we should sympathize with. But all credit to the performers who did a great job.

  33. Bill Worley responded on 12 April 2016 at 1:06pm Reply

    All I can say is that this was yet another dull evening. The production made no sense and I agree with all previous comments - if a murder scene is played for laughs then it is total wrong. Also it was great to have the Wolfs Crag scene in (it is usually cut) but why ruin it with the pantomime on the other side of the stage. I also agree with the comment that so much public money is spent on these productions which rarely get revived.

    I also found it musically dull. The less said about the conducting the better and I did not think Damrau did herself any favours by appearing in this junk

  34. Vtxo responded on 12 April 2016 at 1:36pm Reply

    Love the voices, enjoyed the music but for those not wealthy enough to get a good seat the majority of second part was totally out of view due to the production decision of splitting the wonderful stage in two.

    I was sitting at the upper Right and missed completely the whole scene where Lucia looses her mind...I had an amazing view of a 30 minutes sleeping beauty (aka her maid on the bed still as a statue) though.....

  35. Ian Slade responded on 12 April 2016 at 1:41pm Reply

    Agree with most of the above; Castronovo was a stunning Edgardo, Damrau a great Lucia. Irritating mime scenes varying from the risible to the appalling. Impossible to concentrate on some great singing because half the stage filled with cod nonsense (obviously I am incapable of imagining Edgardo coming in, and what the hell was he flicking through the wardrobe for?). That bloody tap....that hilarious sex scene...one could go on and on. Make makes it far worse, however, is that it simply is not true that it is clear why Lucia has gone mad; over in soap opera Land, a female victim of coercive abusive in Ambridge snapped. Here, Lucia is a scheming murderess who plans a murder with her maid for an accomplice, despite the libretto's insistence on her fragile state from the beginning. The pregnancy is a nonsense that ends in disgusting scenes; in Act 3 of Walkure, Sieglinde chooses life when she knows she is pregnant. That is the naturasl response of a pregnant woman rather than Lucia singing about how she will die.No pregnant woman could do that, surely? I'm due to see the other cast; as a Stalls Circle Standee I might just bring a cushion and sit on the floor so that at least I can't see it. Is there any danger that directors might be engaged who do not think they know better than composers and librettists....you know, one where the right people die at the end of Parsifal? One where the surtitles of Idomeneo actually translate the text rather than what the director wishes had ben written...basic stuff really. This Lucia is a disgrace.

  36. Lisa responded on 12 April 2016 at 2:38pm Reply

    For all the controversy beforehand, I found this peculiarly lacklustre - the singing was mostly great, but the conductor didn't seem interested or excited by the music at all. I waited and waited for it to take flight, and that never happened. The conducting was the biggest problem for me - Donizetti's music can be quite magical when well sung and led, regardless of the staging, and that magic just wasn't there.

    As for the production itself - it was pretty average in every level, but sort of made me question the director's understanding of stagecraft. I could see the whole stage from where I was sitting, but imagine those on the sides saw nothing; the set was boxed in, often too dark, and too cramped for the number of singers and chorus required. The running water was distracting, but I somehow was left with a feeling that that was on purpose - Mitchell's "deeply feminist" approach seemed to mean that she would distract audience's attention away from the men whenever the focus should be on them.

  37. Nicholas Scott responded on 12 April 2016 at 2:43pm Reply

    This is from the ROH's new season guide:

    "La Traviata
    When Richard Eyre's production opened in 1994, it so impressed BBC executives that TV schedules were altered to allow its live transmission. More than two decades later, the same stage staging remains a firm favourite with audiences"

    To all at the ROH, what does that tell you? Season after season you put on more performances of this than anything else. Do you actually take any notice of the comments in threads like this one? Can't agree more with the comment by Stephen Watkins " If you want to say and do these things on stage do them with a piece designed for them and not with my taxes"

  38. Nadia responded on 13 April 2016 at 9:01am Reply

    The sex scene was adequate. At last, what the singers say match with their acts. The idea of two rooms on stage is interesting, but it disturbed me, especially during the murder scene. The noise of the water during the final scene was interesting only for the first 20 seconds, but after that it was disturbing. I would prefer to see Lucia dressed as a lady during the secret meeting with her lover. That would accentuate the romantic aspect of the opera. What did the ladies do, when they appeared and disappeared? I couldn't understand. I saw two performances this year, Tosca and Giselle. Both of them were amazing. Unfortunately, Lucia di Lammermoor was just decent.

  39. Dewi Hughes responded on 13 April 2016 at 6:15pm Reply

    The singing was good but not quite belle canto in places. I didn't object to the split set but felt there were still too many distractions in the actions. Why was it necessary to have two actors carry off stage all the contents of the room - this was highly distracting.
    Altogether this was not up to the ROH's normally very high standard.

  40. Peter Lewis responded on 13 April 2016 at 10:56pm Reply

    Fascinating to read some of the views after I posted at the start of this thread in case I misjudged it all, Clearly I hadn't. Just wonder if ROH are happy to see almost universal scorn on its website and whether or not this director will get another gig here.

  41. francois responded on 14 April 2016 at 12:46am Reply

    Globally a boring performance, mostly for musical reasons: The conducting was really extremely, very very poor, much too slow, heavy, lacking of excitement, tension and drama. Soooo boring!

    Voices were good but not outstanding and, apart from Tezier's Enrico, under-sized for such music.

    The production is visually beautiful and the direction is very detailed, it could have been a very good production. But unfortunately I agree that three scenes are ridiculous and downgrade the global experience: the vomiting, Arturo's murder, both resulting in laughs in the audience, and the sex scene, very ackward and too much burlesque.
    Globally a poor performance, but as far as I am concerned I was much more disappointed by the musical side than by the production.

  42. Johnny Saxon Jones responded on 14 April 2016 at 8:47am Reply

    I agree with so much which has been said above - I felt I was watching a pretty bad silent film with an irrelevant music track.
    Totally disrespectful to the composer, the singers and the audience.
    Complete disaster visually and dramatically.
    Good principal singing was overwhelmed by the dire goings on on the stage.
    Like everyone else, I loved the glass harmonica though.
    Yet again a home-grown new production since Kasper Holten has been in charge is an utter disaster for me.
    Please turn that damned tap off at least.

  43. Rosalind Riley responded on 14 April 2016 at 10:35am Reply

    Re the damned tap - at the end I heard the man behind me tell his girlfriend that he'd had to keep his legs crossed and lean forward throughout that scene as the sound of running water was making him want to rush out to the loo.

  44. nigel ashton responded on 14 April 2016 at 10:51am Reply

    A inspired reimagining of this work by one of our greatest living directors, I have rarely seen singers act with such conviction. The visual power and lucidity of this production is often overwhelming. Many congratulations to Kasper Holten on having the courage to engage Katie Mitchell, this is exactly what arts council subsidy should be spent on, please can this be the first of many Mitchell productions at the house the only way to ensure that opera flourishes for a younger enlightened audience..

    • Geoff responded on 14 April 2016 at 2:49pm

      Just a guess, Nigel, but might you be someone "older" trying to speak on behalf of the "younger"? I mention this as, not for the first time, it was clear to me that the "younger" audience was underimpressed by the direction (Ms Mitchell is not their generation, after all).

      By chance I sat with two "younger" audience members: one was noticeably annoyed by the production, the other left at the interval. It may be that ageing trendies - the same generation as Katie Mitchell - have more interest in reinterpretations.

  45. Allan Perry responded on 14 April 2016 at 12:49pm Reply

    This was supposed to be an introduction to the opera for family members but feel this production would not be a good choice so we will not be attending having purchased tickets , convinced that this is the right decision after viewing the interview with the director !

  46. Nicholas Scott responded on 14 April 2016 at 1:39pm Reply

    Oh dear, what are we, the unenlightened music and singing lovers to do? Clearly we are unable to appreciate the bending, indeed destruction, of a composer's and librettist's intentions. I guess we'll just have to stay at home and listen to recordings or eagerly await the odd concert performance of opera where there's no chance of a director messing it up for us.

  47. David Whitlow responded on 14 April 2016 at 6:21pm Reply

    Its pretty much all been said, particularly by Christof. What a terrible disappointment. I felt patronised by the direction and the staging. The audience surely have enough imagination not to need the Director's concept laid out in grim and grimy detail. We endured the unnecessary and unconvincing sex scene, hilarious murder, bizarre sight of a woman having a miscarriage being helped on and off a billiard table but worst of all the 'piped' sound of running water to fill a bath drowning out the singing that was outrageous and insulting. Surely everyone knows that filling a bath requires running taps without needing to hear it. In addition to the ROH warnings to audiences about sex and violence there should be one for gentlemen of a certain age about all that running water! Fortunately for me I saw the Royal Ballet perform The Winter's Tale the following evening. The Lucia team should watch it to learn how emotion and pain can be conveyed musically in a way that draws the audience in and engages and moves them without insulting their intelligence.

  48. Chris Heighes responded on 15 April 2016 at 12:25am Reply

    And still the tap runs..... (heavy sigh)

  49. Philip Levy responded on 15 April 2016 at 7:48am Reply

    Four of us went last night. Balcony right box so semi restricted view.
    Two of us regular opera goers, one not and one his first opera.
    Without exception we loved it! A magical performance, first and foremost because of exceptional singing. Yes the murder scene was silly although I am guessing director has listened and toned down some of excessive production flaws. Orchestra and conductor were spot on. A memorable evening.

  50. Rosemary McDonald responded on 15 April 2016 at 12:24pm Reply

    Summary for me - Perfunctory casual sex scene, no tenderness involved, very silly murder scene with the corpse appearing to come back to life - hilarious laughter where there shouldnt be any - felt very sorry for Castronva and Tezier trying to sing thoughout this debacle. Lucia's bedroom being emptied of its contents whilst she threw up in the loo, followed by glorious singing from Damrau together with the glass harmonica, being ruined visually by her having a miscarriage on a billiard table - I ask you! And why were there two ghosts floating around? The split stage was certianly very distracting though we didnt hear the water in the ampitheatre.Many fellow opera goers seemed to be muttering furiously about the production ruining the beautiful music and compromising the singers as we left, relieved it was over. Very sad.

  51. Chrissie Bates responded on 16 April 2016 at 1:45pm Reply

    I’ve seen this production twice now. Musically it felt more secure a week after opening night, and congratulations to the singers.

    Second time around I knew what to expect, and tried to concentrate on the singing and not be distracted by the goings on next door. I am not especially familiar with the opera, so did not object to Katie Mitchell’s re-imaginings. Some of her ideas were good, and Vicki Mortimer’s set was indeed handsome, but there were so many distracting ideas and they should have been edited down. I think it was wrong to slavishly stick to the 'split set’ - the scenes involving the chorus, and especially the Mad scene, seemed impossibly crowded - and the biggest flaw in the production was the murder scene, when laughter broke out during the duet. After opening night I would have thought a quick rethink on Arturo’s demise would have made sense. But the singing did not seem to be Katie Mitchell’s priority.

    I think the production may have gone down well with audience members unfamiliar with the music or relatively new to opera. Any moments that may have seemed uninteresting were filled up with - what for the rest of us were annoying - distractions, and helped move the story along. I know this is heresy. But as long as we have the Angelicas/Cav&Pag/Cheniers etc, I can put up with the odd bit of controversy.

    I think the tap has been turned off.

    • Brendan Quinn responded on 16 April 2016 at 5:36pm

      Chrissie Bates, the tap and running water was loud and clear in the front ampitheatre on Thursday night. I shouted out loud after the end of Castronovos finely sung aria to "turn the bloody tap off" I hope some of the management heard.

  52. James responded on 17 April 2016 at 2:17am Reply

    Thought the music, singing and acting wonderful. Found the split stage confusing and directorial choices bizzare. But boy, how long did it take to shift the scenery between each scene? I have never sat thought so long, so soul destroying curtain down scene changes. Was this the Ring? Or Aida?

    The ROH could have sent out ushers selling ice cream and peanuts during this time and made a fortune.

  53. Peter Lawley responded on 17 April 2016 at 4:29pm Reply

    The most moving and beautifully sung mad scene I have ever heard in a live performance. I and the people around me were in tears last night.
    There's a strong cast of singers, and the glass harmonica was a revelation.
    I like Daniel Oren's conducting - never flashy, never trying to make Donizetti into early Verdi - always with a slight touch of Gluck, yet pacing senes securely and knowing when to provide sensitive accompaniment to the singers.I really don't agree with some of his critics.
    I enjoyed the YouTube programme in preparation, and welcomed the concept of a feminist production.I hope this team will do more work on the timing, and study the libretto and text more closely to bring off their theoretical perspectives as theatre. Some of the extraneous action needs sliming down or reimagining. It made me think we need better training for opera directors so that they are properly prepared, whether making innovative work, or trying to follow older conventions.
    It's still a fabulous Lucia though, for all that.

  54. Mark Cunningham responded on 17 April 2016 at 8:56pm Reply

    What incredible singing, what wonderful music-yes the production was a bit overly fussy and distracting at times but every effort was being made to try and bring story to life while staying true to the male dominated era in which it was set-this is a unique treat and while we can all find faults I would suggest we were all fortunate to be present at such a wonderful renewal-congrats to all !!

  55. Laura Farrell responded on 18 April 2016 at 11:01am Reply

    I liked it generally, but the murder was a bit "Benny Hill" and ruined the wonderful Wolf's Crag duet. Besides, how Lucia kills Arturo isn't that critical to either storyline, the point is that she does. Otherwise it was gripping, but the staging wasted a lot of stage space and squashed large scenes into small spaces unnecessarily.

  56. Paul Smith responded on 18 April 2016 at 11:41am Reply

    Not yet seen this. Will be going next week with some trepidation, must keep an open mind. I saw a very modern production of Lucia at the Liceu in Barcelona last year and it was fantastic, did anybody else see this?

  57. David O'Brien responded on 18 April 2016 at 12:45pm Reply

    The split stage caused more problems than it was worth. The opening, with chorus supposedly searching for someone had as much space to move as on the Central Line in rush hour.The sound of the chorus was compromised, drastically reducing their impact. Each half of the stage was overly cluttered leaving a lot of the singers standing with no-where to move. The obsession with looking inside the closet was bizarre. Flush toilets are mid 19th Century, not in Donizetti's time. En suite bathrooms are very 20th

  58. David O'Brien responded on 18 April 2016 at 12:50pm Reply

    en suite bathrooms are very C20th. . in 19th Century was still chamber pots, and portable tin baths,with toilet/bathrooms shared down the corridor. I cannot believe a brother would introrduce his sister to her arranged fiance in her bedroom, and her is state of undress. Too much of this was badly thought out. And no-one gave a thought to sight-lines. Despite all this, Damrau delivered a truly magnificent performance. but shame on ROH for throwing another dire, incompetent
    staging at us.

  59. Nicholas Scott responded on 18 April 2016 at 1:45pm Reply

    To Paul smith, yes I was there too and found the production surprisingly ok for Michieletto BUT the tin bucket fountain replacement was ridiculous and the wandering ghost became somewhat irritating. Went to both casts as well and had two great evenings

    • Geoff responded on 19 April 2016 at 8:33am

      >>found the production surprisingly ok for Michieletto

      Nicholas, are you trying to be funny? Michieletto directed the (poorly received) William Tell and the (glorious and very positively received) Cav&Pag at ROH last year. Lucia however is the work of a theatre director called Katie Mitchell, who previously directed Written On Skin for ROH (those who saw this in concert at the Barbican tell me it was better without Ms Mitchell's contributions).

  60. Roger Taylor responded on 18 April 2016 at 2:45pm Reply

    We saw Lucia on Saturday 16th April. After all the hype and conflicting publicity we decided we just needed to make up our own minds. The singing by all the principals and in fact all the cast was fantastic, and in particular the Damrau performance was stunning with respect to both singing and acting, a real tour de force. I can see why she is regarded as one of the best Lucias in the world at the moment. The playing was also excellent and hearing the sound of the glass harmonica fill the auditorium was an experience. The contemporaneous set design was also very attractive, apart from at times the split stage, leading to a rather cluttered appearance. Of course the main controversy was around the direction. Fortunately although we found some of the "actions" unnecessary, they did not put us off what was overall a fantastic performance. The so-called sex scene was hardly noticeable. The murder was badly directed, in fact the audience laughed, which was rather off-putting and incongruous with the music, as there was no humour in the music at that point. Depicting Lucia's madness as at least partly due to a miscarriage was missing the point. It is the music that depicts the psychological trauma she is going through, and to visually add a suggestion that in the early 19th century someone in her condition could have had a miscarriage, while possibly true, added nothing to the impact of the performance. Donizetti's score is one of the best in the bel canto repertoire and it would be great to hear it performed more frequently.

  61. Roy Hiscock responded on 18 April 2016 at 3:23pm Reply

    The singing was, on the whole, excellent, the conductor was not: his tempi for the first three scenes were very ponderous. from that point on he sharpened up his act, but not very much. The evening became long and - at times - very tedious.

    Where to start on the production? Let's leave the sex and violence until later. When, exactly, is the action supposed to take place? Some clues: the wedding guests appear to be playing snooker, which was devised round about the mid-1870s. Lucia's bedroom has an en suite bathroom (was this a feature of the poshest aristos' homes before 1900? - I ask out of ignorance so am happy to be corrected), with chain-operated flush lavatory (does Enrico have his own bathroom and bog?) - yet the Bridal suite appears to be Lucia's bedroom. So the ancient castle has all mod cons (OK), all fitted up some time during or after the 1840s (?) - but no separate bridal suite, together with "her" and "his" bedrooms. Odd, and - worse - inconsistent

    Lucia is a "strong character" in this production. She skips off before dawn for a shag with Edgardo, each undresses the other with some ease, she taking the initiative - it's obviously not their first time. OK - why then, in the wedding scene when Edgardo appears, does she not simply demand to know why he has not contacted her in some way (if the castle has all mod cons, there must be some way that this could have been done) explain that her duplicitous brother has lied to her and coerced her into a loveless marriage (so far not consummated) and that anyway she's three months' pregnant with his child: they could shack up together, with or without the blessing of the church? The period setting (which I cannot precisely work out) is between 50 and 100 years after Mary Wollstonecraft's "Vindication of the Rights of Women" - surely a strong, intelligent, resourceful woman like the Lucia of this production would and could do this? This would, of course, mean that the opera finishes with the end of Act 2 - hence no Enrico-Edgardo duet, no Mad Scene, no death of Edgardo - but that's a small price for an innovative and dramatically consistent production. For those who need prodding - yes, I am being ironic.. (It is also, of course, a similar period since the publication of "Northanger Abbey": remember Catherine Morland's shame and humiliation when Henry Tilney discovers that she has let her imagination run riot about his, Henry's, father, and his comforting words of living in an age of rationalism ("This is the late 18th century") when any suspicious goings-on would be investigated? - a "strong" Lucia is unlikely to be misled for very long)

    I guess it's lack of imagination on the part of the producer: that the resourceful etc Lucia believes in ghosts is surprising, but not unbelievable (we all, I think, know some exceptionally intelligent, highly professionally qualified and knowledgeable people who have weird ideas); however, we (the audience) don't need to be shown the ghosts - or other apparitions - on stage. Either singers can conjure the imagined scene (with a little help from the composer) or they can't. In the specific case of the "Mad Scene", Ms Damrau (and Donizetti, for that matter) did not need any assistance in conjuring up the image of Edgardo, she conveyed vividly that she (ie Lucia) saw him. Having Edgardo walk on stage not only underestimated Damrau's dramatic abilities it mystified us, (well, me, at any rate). Was Edgardo actually there, or wasn't he? Without any "imagery", I could easily believe that this delusional Lucia thinks she is actually "seeing" Edgardo. Put Edgardo (or his "image") actually on stage.and the point is lost. Another point on lack of imagination: Enrico barges into his sister's bedroom and then into her bathroom. Clearly the aristocracy were on a downward trajectory since Beaumarchais' day - Almaviva would not humiliate his wife in front of strangers or the servants and was outwardly polite - however vicious and unpleasant - toward Rosina.

    Sex and violence: The problem with depicting sex on stage is that it can simply be (intentionally or unintentionally) funny. In the love duet it was merely silly and totally irrelevant (I was disappointed - after reading some reviews, I was hoping for a good belly laugh at the front runner for the "Bad Sex" award). The killing of Arturo, on the other hand, was partly Pythonesque, partly "Gianni Schicchi" (a sick version). It was hilarious in a nasty sort of way and it destroyed the tenor-baritone duet. A great pity - Castronovo and Tezier are both very fine singers.

    Re-think opera by all means: but please try to be dramatically consistent and assume that the audience has a modicum of intelligence. And please, never assume that our boredom threshold cannot survive a few bars of music.

    One last point: the music is sacrosanct, of course, but if you want to update something, surely the libretto should avoid anachronisms: Gianni Schicchi set in the 1950s but using 13th century references doesn't make sense; likewise, a modern-day "Capriccio" with references to Gluck's reforms and Goldoni; and a Victorian Lucia di Lammermoor with references to William and Mary. Would minor alterations to the libretto really be so unacceptable if they avoided such anachronisms?

  62. James Gordon responded on 18 April 2016 at 6:56pm Reply

    Re the previous comment:
    I have remarked on other occasions, in similar vein to Roy Hiscock, about anachronisms in libretti in updated productions. However, in this case, the original libretto is not short of historical and geographical absurdities of its own. Enrico tells his sister, "William is dead. Now we shall see Mary ascend the throne." In fact, Mary was William's wife and she predeceased him. Anne was her sister and his successor. At the start of the Wolf's Craig scene, a stage instruction (and the music) tells of Enrico galloping up to the castle on a horse. Anyone who has walked down the cliff path to Fast Castle (Scott's model for Wolf's Craig) will appreciate the likelihood of both rider and horse ending up like Alexander III - several hundred feet below in the Firth of Forth. Especially on a dark and stormy night.

    Scotland in the 1830s was a far away country of which Italians knew nothing, except through the pages of the Number One International Best Selling Author of the day. Hence its romantic appeal.

    I await seeing this production in May with interest.

  63. Tony Muldoon responded on 19 April 2016 at 9:07am Reply

    Agree that much of the production was hopeless. There are many salient points above. From the Upper Slips right, fully 1/3 of the singing came 'blind' and allowing the running water?

    However threads like this make depressing reading because they are so predictable and narrow minded.

    To those who criticise the conductor but praise the singing, please explain how that is possible?

    And those who criticise the intelligence of of some of the ROH decision making and then proudly state they booed. What point do you think a boo makes? Is it a form of intelligent expression or the noise an inarticulate child makes?

    And addressing the 'gentleman' who pompously tells us it was him shouting in the Opera House? I doubt I could get you to understand anything.

  64. Ryan Campbell responded on 19 April 2016 at 5:15pm Reply

    This is the sort of production that gave the ENO a bad name.

  65. Ian Sanderson responded on 19 April 2016 at 7:53pm Reply

    I agree with most of the comments. Distracting etc. I would love to know why Lucia had a rock under her bed ? I didn't feel emotionally engaged from the start. When we left my partner felt angry and disappointed. I'm sure some people loved it we didn't. Not because it was 'new' 'groundbreaking' 'modern' but because it didn't do its job. If a production doesn't speak to the audience, don't blame the audience.

  66. Thom responded on 20 April 2016 at 10:07am Reply

    I was appalled yesterday - not by the production to which I was indifferent - but by Oren's deadweight conducting. I was very sceptical about the torrent of negativity about him on social media until I had the misfortune to experience it personally. I have never known the sextet or the mad scene to fall so flat as they did yesterday - and it was all down to Oren. We used to think that Bonygyne was a Routinier but he was a veritable Serafin or Rescigno by comparison. I felt so sorry for Damrau who worked so hard and was denied her just rewards. Audiences usually erupt at these moments but not under Oren's deadly baton and yet still he is engaged by the Opera House - a world of why going on here. I certainly will not waste time or money on any of his performances in the futre.

    • Tim responded on 20 April 2016 at 11:47am

      Totally agree. Oren was the real culprit. How could Donizetti's score be made so dull, dull, dull? An astonishing achievement (not in a good way). The singers did the best they could (though Damrau's coloratura is approximate in places). But Mitchell's production lacks any subtlety - she insults our intelligence (and imaginations). Not a "feminist" reading at all - just a crass one. The ROH will revive this one at its peril.

  67. Carole Parsons responded on 20 April 2016 at 4:40pm Reply

    A very disappointing evening last night - disliked the split stage so made the decision early on not to watch what was going on in the other part . The singing was excellent and I realise now I have something else to be grateful for - the tap had been turned off!

  68. Eric Firkins responded on 21 April 2016 at 10:36am Reply

    An excellent production that made sense of the libretto. Singing was superb and the acting skills of Damrau were very good. it was so good all round that i went and stood for a second performance. Wished however it could have started earlier because on both occasions it didn't finish until nearly eleven.

  69. David Worskett responded on 21 April 2016 at 5:57pm Reply

    This Lucia gave us some great singing and good conducting, although a slightly more delicate touch in the pit would have made it even better. The production really wasn't shocking and the advance warnings were unnecessary and underestimated the CG audience. However, the production, whilst pursuing a valid and powerful idea, was awful. It was above all hugely distracting, but also insulted the intelligence of the audience and the genius of Donizetti and his librettist. It is totally unnecessary to show what goes on "between scenes": it's all in the libretto, totally accessible through surtitles!

  70. Ian Christie responded on 21 April 2016 at 6:06pm Reply

    The major disappointment of the evening (19 April), to which others have alluded, was Oren's leaden conducting - particularly sad, given his lively contribution each year to the Verona festival . I have never witnessed a mad scene so devoid of emotional engagement.
    Charles Castronovo was outstanding. To regard Damrau as the Lucia of today fills me with despair for today, but, given the idiocies of the production, one should not leap to condemn the frantic lunges above the stave whenever climax (sic) was required.
    A deeply depressing evening redolent of the late eighties of which I trust we shall haver fewer post the greatly unregretted departure of KH.
    And yes I was waiting for the tap but mercifully we were spared it. At least one thing for which to be grateful.

  71. Tim Walton responded on 21 April 2016 at 6:18pm Reply

    Wonderful singing, appalling production which was completely over the top.

    Hopefully with the departure of K H, which can't come soon enough his replacement won't employ these moronic idiot producers

  72. John Chalmers responded on 21 April 2016 at 6:55pm Reply

    I can't blame any director of Lucia for trying to make some sense of how and why she dies but I felt the production was just too contrived trying to cross all the 't's and dot all the 'i's. The split stages showing who is doing what to who off stage was very distracting from some of the best musical moments.

  73. Penny responded on 21 April 2016 at 7:00pm Reply

    We've opted to see 'Lucia' at our local cinema next week.....having read a lot of the above comments, I'm relieved that we'll only be 5 miles from home if it all gets too much!

  74. Joyce responded on 21 April 2016 at 9:03pm Reply

    My sentiments echo exactly those written by so many, Christoph, naomi layish, David Whitlow in particular. My question to the ROH is why allow this production to go even into rehearsal.

  75. Stephen Smith responded on 22 April 2016 at 11:31am Reply

    19 April, the tap was going strong enough to significantly detract from Castronovo's final aria. It was interminable and very evident in the slips. Stick a speaker under the bath, not in the auditorium, please.

    Taking off one's shirt in the mausoleum in the Scottish climate? - gratuitous for Edgardo, if he's going that far, then why not disrobe more?. Really, just not necessary and does not conform to the scene - Lucia remains clothed/covered up.

    So the conclusion is that the death scene histrionics (some say toned down from the 1st night - really?) is intentional. A bad judgement of error, I can't imagine why its necessary to "lighten up" a deranged murder scene, which leads to such a despairing end for Lucia. And so disrespectful of the singers and their duet in the other scene (in the split screen effect).
    My first time at Lucia, maybe Damrau isn't vocally the best Lucia of all time or the last 50 years but she gave a good performance - and Castronovo too - all in all, apart from the gratuitously crass points above, the production is rewarding to hear and worth seeing.
    I'd be interested to pursue other productions now, though, because whilst the sets look good the downside of the split screen remains the distraction of 2 dramas in sight at the same time, and the crowding of the chorus (and at times principals) into a confined space, and then at the back of that space, which constricts the sound conveyed to the auditorium.
    Finally I'd like to express that I am positive about the performance and don't regret the time / expense but neither should we feel we have to suffer crass production approaches in silence.

    .

  76. Katrina responded on 22 April 2016 at 8:45pm Reply

    This production was absolutely mesmerising. Neither the water tap nor the split stage bothered me - it actually added depth to the performance. Sex scene wasn't really a sex scene - there was nothing shocking about it. The murder scene was intended to be a little bit grotesque - Katie Mitchell is a genius!

  77. Evelyn Roschütz responded on 23 April 2016 at 1:33am Reply

    I was there on the night of the 19th of April.
    I hardly have much to add to the very justified scorn poured by previous reviewers on this mockery of a production that can hardly be called "Lucia di Lammermoor" (in order to relate to friends and acquaintances what I had to go through that night at the opera, I re-baptized this production to myself as "Lucia di Stomach-ache" and also "Lucia di Loch Shallow-Ness").
    Eternally grateful to so many previous reviewers for the nice schadenfreude moments I got from reading your opinions! That just about starts to compensate for the waste of money and time and the visual vexation I had to experience that night during this performance.
    Though I'm not technical musically speaking, I also perceived, as some say here, that the music never really took off (instead, at home I have the Dessay-Alagna-Tezier "Lucie" recording in French, and when I play it at a certain point I start feeling guilty that I'm softly shaking my shoulders to the music as if it was dance tunes!).
    The above said, I melted at the voices of Damrau/Castronovo/Tezier and the singing - I long wanted to see them live and got it, thanks ROH for the casting.
    About the production, well, I think opera houses --ROH and ENO equally and especially-- should start replacing their forewarning of "This production contains graphic scenes of sex and violence" for the more accurate "This production contains uncalled-for, banal, puerile, formulaic 'epâter la bourgeoisie' graphic scenes of sex and violence".
    Ms. Mitchell and her ilk of regietheater butchers (Calixto Bieito, Damiano Michieletto, etc.), but even more so the decision makers that give them these kind of commissions, would do us the public a huge favor if they'd start steering clear of opera: they think they're doing more for the "victim" groups they allegedly fight for with their cheap politics than brave and talented composers and librettists of the past did, but the truth is the only two things they do is 1): parade their ignorance of and contempt for their own cultural heritage, and 2): keep both newcomers and seasoned opera-goers from entering into direct, spirit-enhancing, aesthetically-fulfilling, contact with great works of art. Especially stop once and for all using our female condition as an excuse for flaunting your moral grandstanding and self-assigned superiority.
    To Ms. Mitchell, I say about her "feminist" ruining of this gorgeous Donizetti piece: you know the saying that "if it's only you hearing the (sexism) dog-whistle (in Lucia di Lammermoor), maybe it is YOU who's the (sexist)..."
    I'm not reactionary or squeamish about depictions of sex and blood on stage or screen (I went to see Kill Bill thrice when it came out), it's only that just like many here I can recognize laziness and sloganeering when I see it.
    This production was devoid of any romance, mistery, tension (dramatic, sexual, or in the clans' conflict), devoid of intelligent suggestion or evocation (except for some costumes and the interiors, which to me looked very appealing - if they only had been stage-wide so the chorus wouldn't have had to squeeze like tinned sardines in brine) and filled with obviousness and explicitness every time things had to be left to the imagination and literacy of a public which is not short on any of the two.
    And this serves to illustrate the futility of the position of those who condemn the people that criticize regietheater, for being supposedly outdated or prehistoric. They say opera is a dying art form (not true! audiences are increasing worldwide) and that to save it it must be "brought up to date" by making it similar to tv or movies or videogames, or, or, or... so as to attract new, younger audiences.
    And that's exactly the way to give it the final death blow, for precisely when we go to see opera -independent of age or income- what we want to see is NOT the moral and intellectual goo we see on tv (though I must say I'm an avid reality shows watcher); au contraire: we want to see and hear sophistication, depth, class (I don't mean money, I mean richness of tone, colour, flavor, criterion), vocal and visual fireworks... we want to see EXCELLENCE, not STILL more baseness here TOO! (I'm 38 and started watching opera on film 7 years ago, and began going to operas 6 years ago and I'm surprised I still haven't made the decision to not set foot on an opera house anymore after the trash I usually have to suffer there.)
    One last question, about the farcical and abundantly laughs-inducing Rasputin-like murder on scene of Arturo, Lucia's bridegroom (well, just like Raspu, Arturo was haaaaaard to kill and had to be stabbed multiple times in two separate attacks, with a long attempt at asphyxiation-via-pillow in the middle, and then strangled to his last breath): why is Alisa, Lucia's handmaid, here an accomplice to the crime and the finisher for good of the life-taking?
    Was that in the original libretto? I didn't know. (If yes, please provide the source).
    Maybe Ms. Mitchell possibly not only hears the sexism dog-whistle, but she also hears the classism one, and so had to "empoooooower" not only the female lead (an aristocratic heir) but more so the "working class" secondary female role? And is that why SHE actually is the one to end up with the patriarchy-embodying figure of the arranged husband?
    Oh, PLEASE. I'm a woman and "working class" (well, if that still exists or can still be more or less defined) and I feel deeply insulted every time these truly privileged, guilt-ridden, members of the Western intelligentsia come to "empower" those not in need of.
    The way to empower society members, and especially more so us women, is certainly NOT to deprive us (like this production did) of the original beauty, joy and truth contained in masterpieces like Lucia di Lammermoor!
    Royal Opera House: will you please now re-empower me by returning the cash I spent on this ticket?
    (Thank God only cheap seats -albeit with full view- were available on my last minute purchase, and thank God the following night I was to attend a performance of the classy Sunset Bvd. musical starring Glenn Close at ENO, which entirely washed away the bad taste of mouth the previous Lucia night left me with).

  78. Wilhelm de Beer responded on 23 April 2016 at 9:59am Reply

    I was really excited to for once be in London when there was an opera on in the ROH, as I missed performances during two previous visits. Being from South Africa, I was not aware of the controversy surrounding this production. The performances of Damrau and Castronovo (and the others) were great, but the split stage was really distracting at times, and especially (intentionally?) while males were singing. So was the running water. Although I enjoyed the music and just being there, I am afraid my memory of the evening is tainted by Lucia's oozing sticky blood during the final scene.

  79. David Taylor responded on 23 April 2016 at 11:41am Reply

    A bewildering mix of the thoughtful and the thoughtless. The fatal flaw being the constantly split set that necessitated superfluous or distracting action taking place, including the comically ludicrous murder scene, in competition with the singing elsewhere and which was also responsible for the severe cramping of the crowd and mad scenes. The only ‘shocking’ aspect of this production was that it emerged from rehearsals still in an ill-considered form that did no justice to the composer or cast. Please no more ‘feminist productions’ just good ones.

  80. Christopher Bayne responded on 23 April 2016 at 5:18pm Reply

    I went to the performance on 22nd April. The singing was amazing and the production quite acceptable. My comment concerns the usually wonderful Royal Opera House Orchestra. It seemed to be playing on auto pilot. With the rehearsal and performances of Tannhauser coming up are they overworked?. What do others think. The applause for the conductor and orchestra was was much less enthusiastic than usual.

  81. Lucy responded on 23 April 2016 at 5:24pm Reply

    Last night was amazing!!! The singers above all (the orchestra too loud at times) but specially Mrs. Damrau was INCREDIBLE: she was singing all the right notes and what great acting! We were a group of young people and we must say that we are really looking forward to more new productions like this and less same old boring Traviata that we have seen many times. I don't understand why people have to always criticise new things. We really hope the ROH will produce a DVD of this one: finally Lucia's craziness makes sense instead of the too silly, too simple solution presented until now! Bravi tutti!!

    • John M. responded on 24 April 2016 at 5:35pm

      Lucy, I don't think people are criticising it because it is a new thing; they are criticising it because they think it is poor or even rubbish. The RO might be guilty of giving us La traviata rather too often but you are wrong to call it a boring old Traviata. I agree, it is a staging which allows the opera to tell its own story, instead of the director insisting on telling us what it's "really about". If you like this Lucia style of production then it's a pity you didn't see Rusalka or Idomeneo or Manon Lescaut or Guillaume Tell, to name but a few, where the director's premise about what the opera was really about also changed what the opera is actually about. You say you are a group of young people; I hope you are not implying that this is the reason why you "got it" and others (older?) didn't? It might just be a case of the Emperor's new clothes....

  82. Sarah responded on 24 April 2016 at 1:04am Reply

    After the warnings, I decided to return my cinema tickets for the 25th and my tickets for a second performance in May for a full refund, which I had to fight for, as I was offered a credit voucher. Imagine trying to book for next season with partial payment in vouchers! I decided to see this production once and once was quite enough. I have had enough of gallons of blood on stage, BUT had a miscarriage been in the libretto or if Arturo's murder had meant to be on stage, instead of merely reported as in the text, that might have been different. I was at the first night of Guillaume Tell with its gang rape scene, which isn't in the libretto and now I've seen Lucia with a miscarriage which isn't in the libretto. I don't suppose that Katie Mitchell has ever had a miscarriage, as if she had, I don't think she would have wished to show one on the stage. It would have brought back too many very sad memories. I just hope that the ROH doesn't ruin Norma, which is another of my favourite operas. The night before Lucia I was at a concert performance of Janacek's Jenufa at the Royal Festival Hall - so much more moving and meaningful. The split stage is fine for an opera house with good sight lines for nearly everyone, but definitely not for the ROH. I reiterate what so many have said, namely that all the pointless activity on one side of the stage completely ruined the superb singing taking place on the other side. Fortunately I could either see the singers or the rubbish on the other side

  83. When you work in opera, the first thing you learn is not to upstage the singers (when they are singing).
    I don´t mind blood and faking sex on stage as long as it "works"...and is "credible" with the plot.
    But mainly in the Wolf´s Crag scene there is an unforgivable directorial "crime"... upstaging poor Enrico and Edgardo to the right, while Lucia and Alisa were trying to kill Arturo to the left. I felt guilty myself for not paying attention to this rarely perform duet but wasn´t able to stop watching the ladies doing a botch job of a killing.

    This only shows how little Ms Mitchell thinks of opera or the art of singing, when you try to apply your ideas, no matter how!

  84. Richard Eccles responded on 24 April 2016 at 11:39pm Reply

    I was very impressed by this production. It featured various creative staging features which helped illuminate the story. I liked the split stage, double scene drama even though the murder scene was a bit ambitious. The lead performers were excellent supported by a very good chorus, and the orchestra was superb.

  85. Geoff R (not the previous Geoff) responded on 25 April 2016 at 5:57pm Reply

    I was very much looking forward to this production until the reviews came out. I had been so disconcerted by the production of 'Guillaume Tell' and the ROH handling of the matter last year, that I wrote to Alex Beard to express my views. He kindly met me to discuss this at the beginning of March and assured me that they had learned all the lessons from that experience. Sadly not.
    Earlier in this thread Rosie Slavin (Assistant Content Producer) defends the warning of 'adult themes' and 'scenes of sex and violence' as being sufficient to cover a miscarriage. Had there been a miscarriage in the plot, this might be so, but when your director invents one for her own purposes a warning would have been helpful. The reason not to do so can only be to 'shock' the first night audience because others will read about it in the reviews and can make a choice as to whether they wish to see that or not.
    I can only echo the detailed negative comments of others.
    I have now seen 9 different productions of Lucia on stage, including the Alden production at the ENO, which was brutal in terms of Lucia's treatment but in an abusive context which made sense. I saw it twice.
    This production, or what I could see of it from the right side of the balcony, left me feeling angry at the loss of what might have been, with such an excellent cast.

  86. Lucy responded on 25 April 2016 at 10:32pm Reply

    Thank you John M but, alas, I am afraid you are doing what you criticise in Ms Mitchell: reading what is not in the message! Luckily, great works of art (like Donizetti's Lucia) allow for more than one reading/feeling/view, making it a question of taste and not of right or wrong. In any case, at least for us, it is above all about the singers and the music. On Friday Damrau, Tézier et al. were amazing (in singing and acting) that is why we loved it and strongly recommend it!
    And hope for a DVD/Blu-ray of it soon!! ;)

  87. Una Hobday responded on 25 April 2016 at 11:23pm Reply

    A fabulous production indeed. A wonderful opportunity to watch a production from the opera House in a small theatre in Bellac in France. Thank you

  88. I have just come home from watching in the Cinema a magnificent production of Lucia. I went with an open mind I love Opera and the traditional versions but this production won me over. I watched the inviews that Amy Lane did with all concerned and with all I had heard that is why I went with an open mind. Everone of the singers were a joy to listen to and credit to Katie Mitchell for this production. I have been to all the Opera's and Ballet's and everyone of them were most enjoyable. Good Night

  89. Shenda Amery responded on 26 April 2016 at 12:29am Reply

    Katie Mitchell Well Done ! Daring, unafraid showing real life in it's most dramatic form both powerful and original squeezing the very essence out of the action. I loved the power - being at its most vulnerable

  90. Stephen Diviani responded on 26 April 2016 at 12:38am Reply

    Just back from seeing 'Lucia' at the ROH. I enjoyed the production very much indeed - if that's quite the right word for such a harrowing experience. Katie Mitchell's interpretation of the opera (her interpolations) made sense of much that otherwise is perplexing in the narrative. Or put another way she made sense of some woefully poorly plotted changes in Lucia's actions. And the 'split screen' staging worked for me, but then I have always found the Wolf's Crag scene boring and I thought what Mitchell was doing far more interesting than what Donizetti and Cammerano were up to. She got to the truth. And on the subject of truth: Damrau was astounding, vocally and in her acting. Perhaps some of the staging details have been changed since the first night: the sex was not of the humping kind and was persuasive; the murder of Arturo was anything but funny; the bath was filled with water and the taps turned off by her maid at the start of the last scene. And the sets & lighting were beautiful. (A polite request: no silly warnings about sex and violence next time: we're not children.)

    • Stephen, do you think Ms Mitchell is clever than Donizetti and Cammarano?
      I would say clever by half...
      And it's a very bad lack of respect for the singers ...who were singing.
      In any case, it is not about good or bad ideas or who is better, I also thought that the split stage was a very good idea, but it goes against the basic principles of opera to distract the attention from the singing...

  91. Louis GOSSET responded on 26 April 2016 at 7:53am Reply

    Too much display of blood and flesh in this production of Lucia. Sex is rarely beautiful with partners beyond early twenties, and it was too long anyway. Opera spectators enjoy voices, music, story, costume and decor. Advanced trash is not what's expected.

  92. James R. responded on 26 April 2016 at 9:39am Reply

    Over the years I have attended many performances at the ROH; but recently have had reservations about several, so chose to watch Lucia as a live cinema relay and was not disappointed. Vocally and dramatically this was to an outstanding standard. Others have criticised the split stage as being distracting; but in the live relay and with excellent camera work the split stage worked well and even in the crowd scene and in the billiard room the set did not feel cramped. Diana Damrau's commitment was incredible to watch compared with a performance of Lucia in La Scala last year which was very pedestrian overall with Elena Musuc in the lead role. The following evening I saw Cav and Pag at La Scala; both of which were superb and full of atmosphere and better than the ROH performances of the same operas at the ROH which I attended in December. interestingly the Cav from La Scala had virtually no set, so there was no context; but atmosphere was created by lighting and, groupings; it was almost like a concert performance. There was a standing ovation at the end of the premier performance. This demonstrated that you do not need to 'fill in the gaps' as in Katie Mitchell's production all of which goes to prove that artistic directors and set designers have a huge problem in pleasing what has possibly become an increasingly fickle and demanding public. Please keep providing us with outstanding performances ROH.

  93. Oscar Hill responded on 26 April 2016 at 11:22am Reply

    I saw the webcast which was musically superb. The production was more questionable. It made no sense to me that Lucia's companion joined in killing Arturo. There is no reason to believe that she had also been driven insane and it would need a lot of special pleading to find an adequate motivation for her.
    Having taken so many liberties with the libretto, it is a pity that the opportunity was not taken to correct an error. Lucia's brother says that with the death of William, Mary is now queen, his own faction has lost and he will be ruined. There were very strong feelings about them in Scotland from those who thought that they had supplanted James Stuart but in fact Mary died before William.
    The subtitles have been greatly improved by being given a black background but the type face needs to be made more legible and larger. There is much less of a problem with the Met sub titling, perhaps ROH would be willing to learn from them.

  94. Gabriella Daddi responded on 26 April 2016 at 12:03pm Reply

    Come molte registe donna anche questa esagera con aborti,sangue ,violenza:questa Lucia imbrattata,che vive in stanza da bagno gran parte delle sue vicende e vomita nel water per una gravidanza inventata dalla regista risulta fuori luogo e eccessiva:fossimo almeno in un'opera verista! lLa scena di sesso (?) del primo atto sulle note di "Verranno a te"è dir poco ridicola.La divisione del palcoscenico,con una visione meno ravvicinata può talvolta essere interessante ,ma per la maggior parte distrae dal filo principale della vicenda e soprattutto dalle arie più importanti.Bravi,bravissimii Damrau e Tezier,ma non so quanto convinti della regia.Sicuramente in teatro, con una visione meno ravvicinata era più suggestiva

  95. Steve responded on 26 April 2016 at 1:02pm Reply

    Thoroughly enjoyed Lucia last night. Cast of course were excellent, Damrau equal to Sutherland but a better actor. The production was well conceived and delivered. Split stage worked to very good effect, the ghosts added atmosphere and gave form to the inner thoughts of the characters. The pregnancy & miscarriage was an inspired twist that gave credulity to Lucia's descent into madness. I simply cannot understand some of the negative and short sighted comments here. I have just one complaint - get Arturo's murder over and done with quickly, as another writer said, this was a little too "Coen Brothers"!

  96. Terry responded on 26 April 2016 at 1:15pm Reply

    Having seen the production last night I have to agree with all the negative comments above - the production is distracting and unilluminating. All credit to the singers for rising so splendidly to the occasion in something which asks so much of them and yet does it's best to obscure what they do best. Why is there, apparently, nobody at the Opera House who could see in rehrearsal that the murder scene was laughable and needed to be redirected. You can't just steal shamelessly from Hitchcock if you don't know what does and doesn't play on stage.

    Frankly, the ROH should have run screaming when Mitchell started talking about her 'beef' with the piece. It's one thing to acknowldge that, say, Measure for Measure is a challenging play because not everybody's motives are clear but I think we can all work out that Lucia lives in a highly patriachal society and is treated badly by all the men around her. And has for the director's suggestion that the male characters' psychologies are 'well drawn' but Lucia's isn't - rubbish. It's bel canto - nobody's psychologies are well drawn! We know precious little about Edgardo or Enrico except that one is desperate to hang onto his position and prepared to sacrifice his sister to acheive it and that the other is madly in love with Lucia and a bit quick to judge - hardly rounded psychological portraits. It's fine to have an agenda but once you start rewriting basic facts to fit it then we've got problems.

  97. Peter responded on 27 April 2016 at 12:26pm Reply

    I loved this production which was a deeply thoughtful response to Lucia. I detect in many of the adverse comments here a dash of misogyny, which I suppose is ironic given that this a theme of the opera.

    Many of the adverse comments seem to object to the staging assuming that what is presented is in any sense "realistic" or "naturalistic". Surely opera is set in an imaginary world where anything can happen? Do we really need to ask why ghosts climb through windows?

    At the opera people laugh at many things which I dont find funny. Often at times where I am feeling overwhelmed by horror or sadness. Audiences have taught me not to take such reactions at face value. Perhaps some people may find the sight of two women trying to kill a man genuinely amusing. I have never tried to kill someone so I dont know about the practicalities. I do know that I would find it very hard to bring myself to do it. This was captured perfectly by the production.

    I enjoyed the last Lucia here (Loy) although it was not much admired. When I was younger I also enjoyed the Zefferelli with Sutherland and Bergonzi. I couldnt imagine ever enjoying that museum piece now. Opera as costume drama has had its day. I dont want to go to the opera to marvel at the expensive sets and costumes as they did in Paris in the 1830s. I want something a bit more thought provoking. So thank you Katie Mitchell for a great production and to ROH for having a sense of adventure in difficult economic times.

    • Stephen Diviani responded on 9 May 2016 at 8:53am

      Couldn't agree more. Everyone has their own view of opera, but it seems extraordinary to me how many people go to opera for cosiness, for the music, and the drama can go hang. Lucia is mad, so that's all right then. Yes, I too saw the Sutherland/Bergonzi, but much as I loved the music and the singing, even back then I thought the production was faintly ridiculous in comparison with a lot of the theatre I was seeing in London.

  98. Anthony. 6 responded on 28 April 2016 at 10:27am Reply

    Not an enjoyable evening. Good singing overwhelmed by the poor, even unpleasant production. Many more like this and the ROH may be joining the ENO in the casualty ward.

  99. Renata Stewart responded on 28 April 2016 at 2:07pm Reply

    I returned one set of tickets as my guest was horrified to receive your warning email, but attended on another night with a former Italian A Level student, who still wanted to attend. We both enjoyed the singing (in particular that of Diana Damrau, which was superb) and we both felt that the glass harmonica was extremely well done (sometimes it can be a bit harsh). However we did not like the new storyline which really did not work for the following reasons:
    1. During the supposed sex act, Edgardo is actually having a rant while Lucia tries to placate him (sulla tomba che rinserra il tradito genitore….) – so nobody would be having sex in the circumstances making the act totally farcical;
    2. The opera was stupidly set in early Victorian Scotland (1840) – In those days en-suite bathrooms did not exist nor was it acceptable for a brother to barge into a sister’s bedroom, or worse still her bathroom!
    3. Again, in 1840 the axe was no longer used to kill any dissenter to the reigning monarch – so it was ridiculous to hear Enrico use this (Se tradirmi tu potrai, la mia sorte è già compita… tu m’involi onore e vita, tu la scure appresti a me… Nei tuoi sogni mi vedrai ombra irata e minacciosa; quella scure sanguinosa starà sempre innanzi a te!) as leverage to force Lucia to marry Arturo! Obviously it would have been a more heinous crime to change the words of the librettist, but therefore the era chosen was wrong, also because later on Enrico invites Edgardo to a duel (sword) – both were outlawed in the 1840!
    4. The murder of Arturo was designed by Cammarano and Donizetti to happen out of the public eye for obvious reasons – how dare the ROH who prides itself in producing authentic as first performed operas, change the story to not only enlist Alisa’s help, but also to put it on in such a farcical way to utterly spoil the Wolf’s crag scene which was performed at the same time (due to split set) because so many of my neighbours were snickering or laughing?!
    5. The presumed miscarriage was again a new invention which was really shocking to see especially as it brought back unhappy personal memories – I am surprised that a woman (Katie Mitchell) thought that this was acceptable for Donizetti’s masterpiece! Shame on her!
    6. Edgardo (according to the libretto) commits suicide in front of Raimondo and the wedding guests/villagers when he hears that Lucia died, while they exhort him to desist: how on earth where they therefore able to see what he was up to when he runs away from the crypt to the bathroom where Lucia had cut her wrists?! Unbelievably amateurish!
    I could go on, but won’t. As I already mentioned, the singing was great, but if I want to hear great singing, I can listen to my collection of CDs rather than attend at the ROH where a recent Operas have been totally inappropriately staged. In fact I am seriously considering not attending my favourite opera Norma in September because I already know from the Friends’ booklet that it will be staged in Franco’s Spain – Madness!

    • Dear Renate

      I totally agree with you. If only ROH listen to the music and respect the singing!
      I think this is the risk you run when you get "trendy" theatre directors to stage opera...

  100. Chris Burbidge responded on 1 May 2016 at 6:47pm Reply

    What a shocker - and I don't mean good !
    Music sublime, great singing but sex on stage plus a messy miscarriage - please, please don't allow Katie Mitchell to direct another opera at the ROH ( and I hope the bloody bathwater was warm enough for Diana Damrau )

    • Erica Amir, Tel Aviv, Israel responded on 6 May 2016 at 10:13pm

      It was an awful production.
      Everything on the scene, except of the singers, was unnecessary and ridiculous:
      the split scene, the sex and murder scene, the ghosts, the billiard table, the tube, the pantomine. As the director was trying to distract the audience from the music and the singers.
      An opera is the stage, first of all, for singers and musicians and not for directors with strange ideas that have nothing to do with what the composer and his librettist meant.
      I keep going to see the same operas because I want to hear different voices and interpretations. And for the stage, leave it as it was intended by the composer and his librettist.

  101. Brendan Quinn responded on 2 May 2016 at 9:10pm Reply

    If the ROH was seeking attention when this production was put to the public they succeeded. In my view and I have commented before all that has been achieved is to reduce the standing of the ROH as one of the leading international opera houses. This production belongs to be cast in the bin, never to be resurrected along with Ms Mitchell. And like a football fan who invades the pitch or chants racial abuse I would personally issue a lifetime ban on ever entering "The House" ever again, this Lucia was an act of cultural vandalism.

  102. Mark responded on 3 May 2016 at 6:51pm Reply

    I went to see this on a Saturday evening during April. It was enjoyable, though some of the directorial decisions were questionable, but they have been commented at length above.

    My main criticism relates to the start and finish time. To plan to finish well past 10:30pm didn't seem like good planning to me, I don't know why the start time wasn't 7:00pm or 6:30pm. I hope the ROH do consider that people do have trains to get to, and we don't all live near the tube.

  103. Roy Hiscock responded on 12 May 2016 at 3:07pm Reply

    I don't wish to have a second bite of the cherry, but seeing Ms Kurzak as Lucia last night (11.05.16) I was surprised at just how different her interpretation was from Ms Damrau's, given that they were singing in the same production (I appreciate, of course, that differences interpretation within a particular production are both inevitable and welcome). Ms Damrau seemed to me very much the strong, resourceful etc character that Ms Mitchell envisaged, whereas Ms Kurzak, while displaying courage and daring, also showed, from the beginning, a vulnerability. Was I imagining the difference, and, if not, was this something worked out with the producer in advance? (Just for the record, I loved both performances. - though my view of the production is unaltered.)

    • Stephen Diviani responded on 13 May 2016 at 6:08pm

      Interesting. I wonder how it works with a double cast. Obviously Katie Mitchell had worked intensively with Diana Damrau on subtext/characterization, but how does it work for Ms Kurzak? Did Mitchell return to work with her? Or an assistant director? Given the amount of acting required in the non-singing, interpolated scenes, it's quite a tough call.

  104. Victoria responded on 12 May 2016 at 3:21pm Reply

    I saw Lucia last night at the opera house. I enjoyed the evening but was generally disappointed and thought the production was full of flaws. Maybe I misunderstood the intentions - I will have a look at Katie Mitchell's film. However, I had the following problems:
    - the cast - I saw the cast with Aleksandra Kurzak and was disappointed, though there was some strong singing from some of the cast.
    - there seemed to be a mismatch between the conductor and the singers, with some awkward moments where everyone seemed tentative. Not helped by the split stage....
    - split stage - bad idea! very distracting, and took away from the drama. The resulting space was too small for the larger ensemble scenes and there seemed no space for the drama to make itself felt.
    - The blood and violence (I didn't feel there was a lot of violence - maybe I'm hardened!) didn't bother me, but it was overdone and pointless.

    Although I admired the lighting and the look of the very Victorian billiard table scene and really enjoyed the sextet, I would prefer a Director to keep things simple and give the singers space to sing and act - the music and the emotions speak for themselves. the singers sometimes appeared very wooden - maybe this was intentional, but it didn't ring true.

  105. Ash responded on 12 May 2016 at 6:37pm Reply

    I attended the performance on May 11, having previously seen the live screening with Damrau as Lucia on April 25, so I was very much looking forward to seeing it 'in the flesh', and with Kurzak in the title roll. From my lofty perch in the centre of the auditorium, I was able to view proceedings from a rather different perspective than that afforded by the screening. Both worked very well for me; the split staging and added scenes served, as Mitchell avowed, to bring out and release much more narrative detail. Whether this detail is to be found in the notes on the page, or in the libretto, or in previous productions, or not, doesn't matter to me. It added much that was dramatically relevant and consistent with the 19th milieu in which it was set. Kurzak's performance I found thrilling and gratifying. I know little of the technical stuff regarding conducting, but it seemed to me.
    A very satisfying, stimulating, and emotionally rewarding opera-going experience. Well done all concerned: Courageous, committed, daring, innovative staging and design.

  106. Adam in Hackney responded on 13 May 2016 at 12:23am Reply

    I enjoyed the singing, and the feminist take didn't bother me. I think some of the commentators above have just been completely misogynist, making negative comments about that "woman" director, and their rage is really about their own issues... Nevertheless, some of the criticism is correct, and the stages with terribly small and often distracting. Also, people were laughing at that murder, which was wrong in every way and badly staged. Sadly, we had the tap on May 11, and loudly at the end. Still, an interesting evening.

  107. James Gordon responded on 15 May 2016 at 12:36am Reply

    So there was sex before Tristan?! Of course there was. Katie Mitchell is clearly an anti-Dreyfusarde, and I'm wish her on this at least. (For the sake of clarity, the Dreyfus in question is Laurence, not Alfred.)

    But singers first. I first saw Lucia in 1985 when I queued overnight for a ticket. A 58-year-old Joan Sutherland played Lucia; Carlo Bergonzi, aged 60, was Edgardo. (So much for the novelty of Lucia being 'a mature woman'.) I was aware that I was witnessing a piece of history that night: I sat next to someone who had seen a young Sutherland playing Clotilde to Callas' Norma. The production was a piece of tartan tat that could have kitted out a gift shop on the Royal Mile - completely inaccurate, as Lammermoor is nowhere near the Highlands, but it didn't matter. Sutherland and Bergonzi acted with their voices alone, so you could shut your eyes and simply listen. Which is exactly what I found myself doing at times tonight.

    In pieces like this, the singers are pretty much all that matters. If they can act, so much the better. Kurzak can, rather well. And she looks the part. She would even be credible as the conventional ingenue Lucia, if her Gilda of a couple of years back is any guide. Vocally, she does pretty much everything, having delicacy, precision and finesse, but dramatic force too when it's required - and not when it isn't. And, as others have intimated, the duet with the glass harmonica is the highlight. Costello sounded ordinary by comparison, fine in the first act but not rising to the challenges later on. My abiding memory of that night in 1985 is of Bergonzi bringing the house down in the final scene, which is surely one of the greatest challenges for any tenor due to the inept dramaturgy of making it follow the mad scene. Costello, like most of his colleagues, was anticlimactic here. Rucinski was a new name to me and a welcome discovery. In a piece like this, he is allowed to hold on to the final note of his cabaletta for even longer than the conductor's slow tempo anticipates! Matthew Rose was reliable as ever.

    Conductors next. To answer an earlier comment, it is possible to have great singing in the face of leaden conducting, but not many singers can do it. One of the most disappointing evenings I have experienced at Covent Garden was a performance of Il trovatore with Haitink treating the score rather too reverentially, where most of his colleagues would simply light the blue touch paper and retire. The Manrico was Placido Domingo. He sounded strained and uninspired. The Azucena, however, was Eva Randova. She had a vendetta to pursue and nothing would stop her. She tipped out the conductor's bathwater, threw the baby into the fire and the memory of it inflamed every word she sang. It was untidy, but riveting. Oren's leadenness was of a lesser order than this, but there were moments tonight when I found myself recollecting the mad gypsy and the phlegmatic Dutchman. Most of all in the Wolf's Craig scene.

    So to the production. It is clever - too clever by half, and that's not just on a pun on the clichés of split stages and character doubles. At times it is also brilliant. The extra layers of invented story sit well with the original and they are insightful too. Where they jar, it has more to do with the manner of presentation, which I suspect is at least partly deliberate. For me, this style of presentation does not sit well with this repertoire. Sometimes the resulting clash illuminates, particularly in the Lucia-Enrico and Lucia-Raimondo duets. More often, it merely irritates. Most of all in the Wolf's Craig scene, where the farcical antics on the bed provoked audience titters that the pedestrian performance of the duet on the other side of the stage and in the pit did nothing to dispel.

    I don't see the point of the nineteenth century setting. It is credible enough but it adds little. Society was no more patriarchal (should that be fratriarchal?) in 1835 than it was in 1702. If update you must, then go the whole way: Edgardo goes off to France to sort out Scotland's future in Europe following Brexit, while Ashton brings in a rich Chinese/Korean businessman to shore up his fortunes in Little Britain... Regrettably, forced marriages and abusive relationships within families are not things of the past.

    Yes, of course there was sex before Tristan, even in opera. But it was oral (i.e. vocal) sex with minimal orchestral accompaniment, little on-stage action and little psychological realism, let alone symbolist surrealism. The story was carried by the voices and it was left to those few singers who were able to do so to create psychologically rounded characters. To present such a piece today as other than a museum piece inevitably provokes conflicts and compromises. When it works, the results can be transformative. More usually it only works in part, and I think this is the case here. So on this basis - J'accuse.

  108. Michelle in Paris responded on 15 May 2016 at 4:56am Reply

    I saw the performance on May 11, with the second team of casts. What a severe disappointment. First of all, I am not a big fan of these "updated" scene settings with a director's agenda that puts music as secondary and that upstages the singers. The divided set was really distracting, and I say this as someone who is usually focused on the music. This time, I could not focus on the singers/music because there was just so much 'action' happening on the other side of the stage. The murder of Arturo was just horrendous, with lots of people around me giggling. It ruined the whole mood for what was supposed to be a tragic drama. (Also, not everything has to be spelled out in front of the audience, you know. I felt like from the sex scene (to show that Lucia's pregnancy has some logical link(?), never mind that it is not in the libretto) and the murder scenes were really unnecessary and only added silliness.)
    Also, what's with the ghost constantly popping up? I really wanted to just shove her out of the way so i could see the singers better. The audience is not that stupid that the director has to remind us constantly of this haunted spirit. (Coincidentally, this sort of divided staging and haunted alter egos on the same stage have recently been seen at the Paris Opera, too, where I go to more often. It did not get good reviews there, either..)
    The bath water running while Edgardo is singing what is supposed to be a very dramatic aria is just unforgivable. I understand you need to draw in younger audiences that would take a fresh look at opera as something not boring, but there is a line. Someone with an opera background should be doing these stage settings so that the focus can be put back on the music.
    Speaking of which, the tempi was horrible, very robotic. Kurzak was off pitch in certain parts and her high notes sounded like a cat being squeezed (she got better during the second act, but still I didn't find it pleasant to hear her sing). Overall her voice felt very thin, her vibrato a bit wobbly and coloratura parts were a bit sloppy. (Honestly, i expected a bit more from a major european opera house. I wish i had gone to the Damrau performance.) The tenor who played Edgardo was very expressive, although he, too, felt a bit strained at times.
    This is my first time at the Royal Opera House and frankly, I expected better.
    I was thinking of booking tickets for Nabucco, but if it is set in Franco's Spain as the rumor holds, then I think I will pass on that. Someone please put an end to this silliness that are the updated stage settings with a political agenda that put music secondary.

    • Stella responded on 18 May 2016 at 2:50am

      Michelle, you can have your opinion about the staging, but let me say that what you are writing about Aleksandra Kurzak's performance is just completely and factually wrong. I saw 2 performances of Lucia at the ROH with the second cast, on May 11 and last Saturday on May 14. And the point is that you are just trying to debase a performer you don't like, without any fair and good reason. What we heard vocally during the 2 performances I attended is just the OPPOSITE of what you are writing. And I have serious doubt about the fact that you really attended the show. Because of that, and also because you are saying that "the bath water running while Edgardo is singing is unforgivable". You know what? This has been CHANGED for the second run and there is NO running water any longer. So (i) you have some problem with your ears or (ii) you are lying and criticizing the soprano in purpose, for an unknown persona! reason ... Aleksandra Kurzak was of course not off pitch or wobbling. And the sloppy coloratura is only in your mind (or dreams ...). Bad luck, a lot of comments (have a look on twitter or on Bachtrack's review for instance) are precisely praising her for her extreme musical accuracy, precision, highlighting every details emerging from her coloratura, her outstanding trills, and her round and "sun-blushed soprano". You heard a cat in top notes? Ridiculous, and offending ... ln the high range, I rather heard ease, and beautifully sustained sounds, rendered with elegance and brillance, well projected without vibrato and ... thrilling the audience around me. If your appreciation was right, how could someone as Hugh Canning have tweeted something like "I’d say Aleksandra Kurzak is the most convincing Lucia I've heard since Joan's" ... And Mark Pullinger "Absolutely loving Aleksandra Kurzak's Lucia. A voice of Scotto-like brilliance." By the way, her talent as an actress deserves only congratulations. She brought a lot to improve the staging and build a highly convincing, deeply possessed character for her Lucia. lt's obvious that her embodiment is marked by an outstanding authenticity. She just stole the show, I loved it! Unlike you, I rather thank the Royal Opera House to engage such first-rate singers and propose such amazing operatic performances.

  109. Steve Freeman responded on 16 May 2016 at 9:15am Reply

    Waste of a good cast. No, I'm not a hard-core traditionalist, but I do need alternative views to make some sense and not get in the way. As far as I can tell, everyone else in the house has to train for years to qualify--apart from directors. We should only consider allowing Mitchell back in once she's spent 10 years in smaller houses to learn her opera craft.

  110. Miriam responded on 17 May 2016 at 1:05pm Reply

    I went last night to see the second cast, having previously been to the performance with the first cast on April 11th. I thought the second cast were better overall, with Kurzak in particular being significantly superior to Damrau both as regards her singing and her interpretation of the character.

    I was also very pleased that the scene changes seemed to have been speeded up so that the curtain came down at about 10.25, making it much easier to catch my train afterwards.

  111. Stella responded on 18 May 2016 at 12:10pm Reply

    [edited] Michelle, you can have your opinion about the staging, but let me say that what you are writing about Aleksandra Kurzak's performance is just factually wrong. I saw 2 performances of Lucia at the ROH with the second cast, on May 11 and last Saturday on May 14. And the point is that you are just trying to debase a performer you don't like, without any fair and good reason. What we heard vocally during the 2 performances I attended is just the OPPOSITE of what you are writing. And I have serious doubt about the fact that you really attended the show. Because of that, and also because you are saying that "the bath water running while Edgardo is singing is unforgivable". You know what? This has been CHANGED for the second run and there is NO running water any longer. [Edited by a moderator to conform to Community Guidelines]

    Aleksandra Kurzak was of course not off pitch or wobbling. And the sloppy coloratura is only in your mind. A lot of comments (have a look on twitter or on Bachtrack's review for instance) are precisely praising her for her extreme musical accuracy, precision, highlighting every details emerging from her coloratura, her outstanding trills, and her round and "sun-blushed soprano". You heard a cat in top notes? Ridiculous, and offending ... ln the high range, I rather heard ease, and beautifully sustained sounds, rendered with elegance and brillance, well projected without vibrato and ... thrilling the audience around me. If your appreciation was right, how could someone as Hugh Canning have tweeted something like "I’d say Aleksandra Kurzak is the most convincing Lucia I've heard since Joan's" ... And Mark Pullinger "Absolutely loving Aleksandra Kurzak's Lucia. A voice of Scotto-like brilliance." By the way, her talent as an actress deserves only congratulations. She brought a lot to improve the staging and build a highly convincing, deeply possessed character for her Lucia. lt's obvious that her embodiment is marked by an outstanding authenticity. She just stole the show, I loved it! Unlike you, I rather thank the Royal Opera House to engage such first-rate singers and propose such amazing shows.

  112. Colin Walters responded on 29 May 2016 at 9:37am Reply

    Seen in Canberra, 29 May. One feels sorry for the fine cast having to be associated with such a misguided and grotesque production. If this director was a bus driver she would have her licence taken away.

  113. Catherine responded on 4 January 2017 at 1:57pm Reply

    A disgusting Opera Production!

  114. Brendan Quinn responded on 1 May 2017 at 12:13am Reply

    Cannot believe the ROH is reviving this production, tickets should be easy enough to obtain - can't see many regulars returning for this!

  115. Brendan Quinn responded on 11 October 2017 at 7:11pm Reply

    It would appear from the widespread availability of tickets in all sections of the theatre - that regular ROH patrons are avoiding the second run of this dreadful production like the plague. Maybe the message will get through, insult our intelligence with such a juvenile production that was one womans desire to make a "statement" and the audience quite simply will not tolerate. Great productions mean people will come back again and again - the previous Meistersinger and the Copley Boheme. Management take note!

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