Natalie Dessay

Donizetti: Lucie de Lammermoor

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This recording presents a welcome opportunity to hear Donizetti's dramatic masterpiece in its French incarnation of 1839, which, although popular for many years (and the version first heard in America in 1841), has largely fallen out of the repertory. It also allows its two stars, Natalie Dessay and Roberto Alagna, to weigh in on a standard work without duplicating the many recordings already in existence. The results are well worth hearing; fans of the Italian version will notice substantial differences in the plot and subtle re-working of the vocal lines that make the entire piece seem fresh. Both Alagna and Dessay deliver excellent performances; together they could use more chemistry -- their love duet at the end of Act I, for example, feels a little dry -- but individually they each have terrific moments. Alagna shines in the third act, bringing great passion and beauty of singing to the graveyard scene, and Dessay sings a wonderfully intricate "Que n'avons-nous des ailes," capturing an optimism and loving spirit that makes her final betrayal seem all the more tragic. Ludovic Tézier is outstanding as Henri Ashton; his mellifluous tone and stolid delivery make his callous treatment of Lucie seem plausible, as if from lack of feeling more than ill intent. Nicolas Cavallier is equally interesting in the role of Raymond, and the supporting roles are all capably sung, if not with great flair. Evelino Pidó leads the Orchestra and Chorus of l'Opera National de Lyon in a solid performance. The chorus in particular greatly contributes to the mood of the piece.

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