This live Lucia from the Mariinsky Theatre boasts remarkable music-making from the orchestra, coupled with some impassioned singing from the star principals and the chorus. But it ultimately falls short in musical and dramatic cohesion, perhaps because it was a concert presentation.
Dessay’s performance is engaging throughout, yet she only really thrives during her signature mad scene, where she employs a wide palette of vocal colours to convey Lucia’s descent into insanity. Beczala demonstrates outstanding technical control throughout the demanding role of Edgardo, but his phrasing is unimaginative and his performance low on dramatic insight. The dark, rich baritone of Vladislav Sulimsky adds depth to the oft-overlooked role of Enrico and contrasts nicely with the light tonal qualities of Dessay and Beczala. The chorus has some great moments (even if its Italian diction leaves much to be desired) and the orchestra delivers some thrilling climaxes, but more lyrical sensitivity in the Act 1 love duet would have created a more satisfying musical performance overall.
The highlight of this recording is Dessay’s mad scene, including the original chilling glass harmonica accompaniment, played by Sascha Reckert.