Small picture of Donizetti





Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor

Liceu, Barcelona, November/December 2006

  Photographs by Antoni Bofill, courtesy of the Liceu, Barcelona.  

Cast and production (this was one of three casts)

Lucia - Edita Gruberova

Edgardo - Josep Bros

Raimondo - Giacomo Prestia

Arturo - Vicente Ombuena

Alisa - Mireia Pintó

Normanno - Josep Fadó

Conductor - Josep Caballé-Domenech

Director - Robert Carsen

Stage design and costumes - Richard Hudson

Lighting - Jürgen Hoffmann


It is possibly rather ungallant to point out that Edita Gruberova is now 60 but the recognition that her illustrious career must be coming to a close spurred us into making a trip to the Liceu in Barcelona where she was part of a triple cast Lucia di Lammermoor. Unfortunately, she had had to miss her first few performances due to illness and so her first appearance was on December 1, 2006.

The production, which originated at Zurich Opera, was directed by Robert Carson and must have been a nightmare to rehearse with triple casts (Ciofi and Cantarero were the other sopranos) and the main member of one of the casts absent but only very rarely did one sense any degree of hesitation in a highly fluent and dramatic rendering.  The period was modernish and suggested the time of the Russian revolution, with grey uniforms predominating except for Edgardo, an appropriate setting of great political uncertainty, if one does not push it too far; it being difficult to envisage Lenin or Stalin being impressed by a suitable marriage.  

The design, by Richard Hudson, framed the stage in a lop-sided archway that ran from near the front of the stage to halfway back.  The back of this archway was sometimes completely closed off with either a solid wall or a grill and sometimes the archway was extended even further back to a door.  On Lucia’s first appearance, the solid back wall had a small window that she tried to peer through. Only on two occasions, on Edgardo and Lucia’s initial meeting and at the end of the opera was the back opened up to show blue sky.  The overall effect was very claustrophobic as befitted the story.

Gruberova started out a little hesitantly, perhaps mindful that Barcelona might resent being stood up, but the storm of applause following her opening aria must have reassured her and the performance continued to gain in authority with some wonderful singing, eventually rewarded with a lengthy ovation. Perhaps the trills were not up to her absolute best and the tone not quite as sumptuous and once or twice, there was a suspicion that the knees were less forgiving of age than the vocal chords but this is carping at what was a stupendous performance. 

Gruberova is a singer who comes over much more tellingly on the stage than in CD or DVD recordings.  Although in a role that she must be able to sing in her sleep, she gave concentrated attention to every note and gesture, never appearing just to coast.  This dedication came through not only in the usual big scenes, but in the less showy ones such as the scene where Enrico (Anthony Michaels-Moore) gives her the forged letter to convince her that Edgardo will not return.  Michael-Moore’s performance here was in a different league even from his excellent Covent Garden one of a few years ago. Looking guilty and shifty by turns, his bullying culminated in a violent slap. Gruberova responded with a marvellously deadened tone on reading the letter and few could have failed to be moved by her final despairing cry as she pushed against the imprisoning walls.

Josep Bros, a local Barcelona boy, was an ardent and musical Edgardo and Giacomo Prestia a physically and vocally imposing Raimondo.  The conductor Josep Caballé-Domenech drew some fine playing from the orchestra but could have injected a little more variation of pace.

R. Burdekin, December 1, 2006


Enrico with chorus

Enrico (Anthony Michaels-Moore) with Raimondo (Giacomo Prestia) and chorus



Lucia (Edita Gruberova) waiting for Edgardo


Lucia and Edgardo

Lucia and Edgardo (Josep Bros)


Enrico greets Arturo

Enrico greets Arturo


Bloodstained Lucia



The final scene with Edgardo, Raimondo and chorus with a ghostly Lucia




Page initially published in  2006