Recognised internationally as one of the world’s great Lucias, Australian soprano Jessica Pratt is making a triumphant return to Sydney this winter for her Opera Australia debut, performing in Donizetti’s most famous opera, Lucia di Lammermoor.
Jessica is one of only three Australian sopranos to perform the coveted role at Milan’s world famous La Scala Theatre, along with two of the country’s most famous singers, Dame Nellie Melba and Dame Joan Sutherland. Hailed by The New York Times as a soprano of “gleaming sound, free and easy high notes, agile coloratura runs and lyrical grace,” Jessica is considered one of today’s foremost interpreters of bel canto’s most challenging repertoire.
Since her European debut in 2007 as the titular role in Lucia di Lammermoor, Jessica’s schedule has included performances at opera theatres and festivals including Teatro alla Scala of Milan, Zürich Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Vienna State Opera and Royal Opera House Covent Garden.
Jessica is the winner of numerous international vocal competitions, including the Australian Singing Competition, the Vienna State Opera Award, and the Rome Opera Award. In 2013 she was awarded the prestigious international prize for coloratura sopranos La Siola d’Oro – Lina Pagliughi.
Joining Jessica on stage for this highly anticipated performance will be American tenor Michael Fabiano, returning to Sydney for the first time since his stunning Opera Australia debut in Faust in 2015. Fabiano has performed the role of Edgardo to high acclaim at Opéra de Paris, Vancouver Opera, and just last month he wowed them at The Metropolitan Opera in New York.
In the role of Enrico is Italian baritone Giorgio Caoduro, who made a marked impression on audiences and critics alike with his performance in OA’s 2012 premiere production of Lucia di Lammermoor. Taking this exceptional cast through their paces will be celebrated Maestro Carlo Montanaro direct from the finest opera houses in Europe and most recently his acclaimed performance with La Traviata in Melbourne last month.
Director John Doyle’s production of Lucia di Lammermoor portrays the ominous clouds of Scotland alongside the deeply entrenched tight-lipped and judgmental sensibilities of the Scottish Protestants. This is a dramatic tragedy that climaxes in disastrous results when austerity and repression are forced upon a passionate young woman.
The detailing on the minimalist set accentuates Set and Costume Designer Liz Ascroft’s exquisite period costumes, which serve to further focus the spotlight on the singers themselves.
The absolute thrill of Lucia is the famous “mad scene”, one of the most beloved examples of bel canto singing to hit the opera stage. The gripping scene depicts the young bride revealing not only her passion for her lost love, but the anguish and torment that has driven her to commit murder on her wedding night.
Doyle’s Lucia literally smears the stage with her new husband’s blood, as the tragedy of her insanity comes crashing into the horror and recoil of those around her. This is an opportunity to hear a coloratura soprano at their technical and expressive best.
From the highlights of Donizetti’s famed heart-stopping sextet at the end of Act 2, to the much anticipated marathon “mad scene” scene in Act 3, this production is a psychological thriller wrapped in an austere beauty, doused in buckets of blood.
Written when Gaetano Donizetti was in his mid-30s, it appears that the stars were aligned for the opera’s success. Based on Sir Walter Scott’s novel, The Bride of Lammermoor, the story tapped into the mid-19th century’s fascination for Scotland – both for its violent warring and feuds, as well as its folklore and mythology.
The opera’s librettist was Salvatore Cammerano, and became the first of eight operas they would collaborate on. Perhaps most pertinent for audiences of the day, with the recent retirement of Rossini and death of Bellini, Lucia cemented Donizetti’s place not only as the supremo of the bel canto tradition, but also as “the sole reigning genius of Italian opera.” (Sony Classical).
Conductor: Carlo Montanaro Director: John Doyle Revival Director: Roger Press Featuring: Jessica Pratt, Michael Fabiano, Giorgio Caoduro, Richard Anderson, Jane Ede, John Longmuir, Benjamin Rasheed, Opera Australia Chorus, Opera Australia Orchestra Set and Costume Designer: Liz Ascroft Lighting Designer: Jane Cox
Lucia di Lammermoor
Joan Sutherland Theatre – Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point
Season: 28 June – 27 July 2018
Information and Bookings: www.opera.org.au
Image: Jessica Pratt to star in Lucia di Lammermoor – courtesy of Opera Australia