Small picture of Donizetti



Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor

Lyric Opera, Chicago, October 10 - November 5, 2011.

Photographs by Dan Rest, courtesy of the Lyric Opera of Chicago


Photographs from the Lyric Opera of Chicago production of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor.  The production drew very mixed reviews. Katy Walsh (Chicago Theater Beat, October 11, 2011) and John von Rhein (Chicago Tribune, October 12, 2011) were largely positive, von Rhein remarking on Susanna Phillips' performance that "she traced the florid trills, runs, roulades and other embellishments with uncanny agility, tonal allure, smoothness of legato and evenness of tonal production", although he felt her characterisation "seemed too mild of temperament, too healthy of mind, to commit such a monstrous crime".  Scott C Morgan (Daily Herald, October 11, 2011) thought the musical values outweighed the dramatic, observing that director, soprano Catherine Malfitano, gave "a nice fleetness to the proceedings by cutting out multiple intermissions..[and staged] the 'Mad Scene' expertly by putting a nearly exclusive focus on the unraveling title character. But overall Malfitano's 'Lucia' is a stylistic jumble."

Andrew Patner (Chicago Sun-Times, October 11, 2011) was altogether more critical, even of the singing,  "If Phillips and her colleagues had to be judged here by the work’s first two acts, an honest judgment would have to be pretty harsh. Not only were the singers disappointing and not only were debuting Italian conductor Massimo Zanetti’s tempos erratic, he seemed to have no connection with the cast and its strengths and limitations, regularly drowning them out with the orchestra, even in the much-loved Act 2 sextet."  For him, the performance was redeemed to some degree in the final act. R. Todd Shuman (, October 16, 2011) was of much the same opinion, "Then came the third act, and one had to wonder if another director had taken over. As if a light had finally come on, the principal singers found the passion in the opera and offered up a thrilling climax and denouement."

Sarah Bryan Miller (St Louis Post Dispatch, October 25, 2011) was also critical of Malfitano's direction, "Too often, I had the feeling that her Lucia, Susanna Phillips, had been directed to channel her predecessor, rather than being encouraged to find connections that worked for her, while other characters were sometimes left adrift". She thought that "Phillips seemed a bit green to undertake this major role, particularly in a major house. It’s a beautiful voice, the coloratura was cleanly sung, and she’s a beautiful young woman; she did a phenomenal job with the Mad Scene, performed on a breathtakingly steep stairway" and, rather like von Rhein above, felt that "The transition from upset to looneytoon murderous was all a bit abrupt".  

James L. Zychowicz (Seen and Heard International, November 14, 2011) caught the final performance with René Barbera standing in for an indisposed Filianoti.  Perhaps by then the principals had grown in confidence and things had bedded in as he commented that " in this production, the emotional interaction is especially strong" and while he had some reservations, "these are quibbles compared to the persuasive whole".


The Team


Lucia - Susanna Phillips

Edgardo - Giuseppe Filianoti (René Barbera substituted later in the run due to illness)

Enrico - Brian Mulligan / Quinn Kelsey

Raimondo - Christian Van Horn

Arturo - René Barbera (Bernard Holcomb)


Conductor - Massimo Zanetti

Director - Catherine Malfitano

Set Designer - Wilson Chin

Costume Designer - Terese Wadden

Lighting Designer -Duane Schuler

Chorus Master - Michael Black



Lucia and Edgardo
© Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago..



Enrico (Mulligan) and Lucia
© Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago.



Edgardo's interruption of the wedding scene. Arturo is the man in the full Scottish regalia
© Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago.



The Mad Scene
© Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago.



The Mad Scene - Enrico (Mulligan) and Lucia
© Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago.



Edgardo and Enrico with the dead Lucia
© Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago.




Page initially published in  2011