Melbourne Opera presents Lucia di Lammermoor at the Athenaeum Theatre this May

Elena XanthoudakisAward-winning Greek-Australian soprano Elena Xanthoudakis extends her bel canto repertoire by taking on the starring role in Lucia di Lammermoor, directed by one of Australia’s most accomplished opera directors Suzanne Chaundy, at the Athenaeum Theatre this May.

This new production of Gaetano Donizetti’s wildly tragic Scottish opera follows Melbourne Opera’s (MO) history-making Ring Cycle Cultural Festival as it is awarded an Outstanding Special Achievement Award at the 2024 Green Room Awards.

A dramatic and demanding bel canto opera, Lucia di Lammermoor sees Elena Xanthoudakis and director Suzanne Chaundy reunite, following their critically acclaimed productions of Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda and Anna Bolena.

Upon completion of her triumphant three-year Ring Cycle, Suzanne Chaundy directed a revival of Maria Stuarda in September 2023, setting the stage for this new production.

“When people talk about bel canto opera, they often refer to the famous ‘mad scene’ in Lucia di Lammermoor, as the music is such an exquisite example of the repertoire. It’s interesting to consider Lucia’s plight – in today’s age, she may not in fact be considered ‘mad,'” says Suzanne.

“The libretto is filled with references to truth hidden by veils, disguising the terrible truth of Lucia’s possession by her brother. Her complete lack of agency extends to being imprisoned by both covert and overt control, which Lucia battles against with all her intelligence and spirit.”

Elena Xanthoudakis has performed all over the world, including recently to great acclaim for the Scottish Opera. She is beyond thrilled to be making her debut as Lucia, having chosen a Lucia aria for her Jewels of the Bel Canto album, recorded with the legendary Richard Bonynge.

“Vocally, Lucia di Lammermoor is an extremely beautiful example of bel canto at its best. Lucia is one of those roles that every soprano loves to sing, it is at once incredibly beautiful and ultimately challenging,” says Elena Xanthoudakis.

“And the character development! Lucia goes on such a journey throughout the opera, she’s living this dream of romantic love and then it all goes so sour in the most horrible way. It’s utterly heartbreaking.”

Some of Melbourne’s most loved opera singers join Elena in this 1850s set production. Acclaimed baritone Simon Meadows (Alberich in MO’s Ring Cycle) takes on the role of Lucia’s brother Enrico, while Henry Choo (Leicester in Maria Stuarda) plays her star crossed lover Edgardo.

One of Australia’s great bass singers Eddie Muliaumaseali’i (Wotan in MO’s Das Rheingold) performs the role of family Chaplain Raimondo, with the divinely talented mezzo soprano Sarah Sweeting (Fricka in MO’s Ring Cycle) takes to the stage as Lucia’s household companion Alisa. Lucia’s betrothed Arturo is performed by Robert Macfarlane, with Boyd Owen as Normanno.

A string of virtuoso arias and duets and the famous ‘mad scene’ Il dolce suono are just some of the highlights of this great work. The Melbourne Opera Chorus and Orchestra are conducted by bel canto specialist Raymond Lawrence and Melbourne Opera founding patron, producer and resident conductor Greg Hocking AM, conducting his first fully staged production since suffering from a stroke in late 2022.

Director: Suzanne Chaundy | Conductors: Raymond Lawrence, Greg Hocking AM | Featuring: Henry Choo, Robert Macfarlane, Simon Meadows, Eddie Muliaumaseali’i, Boyd Owen, Sarah Sweeting, Elena Xanthoudakis, Melbourne Opera Chorus, Melbourne Opera Orchestra | Set Designer: Dale Ferguson | Costume Designer: Harriet Oxley | Lighting Designer: Peter Amesbury

Lucia di Lammermoor
Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins Street, Melbourne
Performances: 8, 14 & 18 May 2024
Information and Bookings:

Image: Elena Xanthoudakis stars in Lucia di Lammermoor – courtesy of Melbourne Opera