The English National Opera presented Lucia di Lammermoor for the first time this season, and the last performance was yesterday. The adorable Anna Christy made her British debut in the title role, despite recently suffering bronchitis. She has a sweet, warbling sort of voice, and from the reviews, it sounds like she was adequate, not distinguishing herself but not awful either. She certainly didn't get as much attention as the whole lip-synching incident of the opening performance.
The Lucia production looks quite tame for David Alden, dark but not absurd. Neil Fisher titled his Times interview "David Alden, the Stephen King of Opera," which I don't find particularly apt, having seen half a dozen of Alden's productions. Stephen King is popular, and is known for horror. David Alden's productions did not seem popular at Bayerische Staatsoper, where I heard him booed a couple of times. Nor was his Rodelinda at San Francisco Opera popular, though not nearly as reviled as Anna Viebrock's Alcina or the recent Macbeth from Zürich.
David Alden's work isn't exactly horror either, though he did have the valkyries give the audience gesto dell'ombrello with those wands airport ground handlers use in Die Walküre, for which he was he was roundly booed for at the end of the premiere. The enormous Playmobil doll whose trousers fall down in Rinaldo was also vaguely horrific (and also garnered the audience's vitriol), though I did like the cupcake frosting hairdos on the sirens. His Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria has the distinction of being the only opera performance for which I had a ticket for but did not turn up to simply because I could not bear to watch what he had done with Monteverdi another time.
It is more self-indulgent than truly scary, even the T-Rex used for Giulio Cesare is not frightening! This image was used in Bayerische Staatsoper's advertising, and alas, I never managed to see it, as it was put on shortly before I arrived in Munich. For the past few years I've successfully avoided David Alden's productions and I'm slightly annoyed to see that the Radamisto at Santa Fe this summer is his. As there are not many Baroque operas being performed at major opera companies, it does seem inevitable that I will be forced to see Alden's work again.
Times Interview | ENO | BSO | Santa Fe Opera