With an impressive soprano debut, Miami Lyric Opera’s “Lucia” makes strong impact

By Lawrence Budmen

Christine Roo Suits performed the title role in Miami Lyric Opera's "Lucia di Lammermoor" Sunday in  Cutket foo foo.

Christine Roo Suits performed the title role in Miami Lyric Opera’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” Sunday in Cutler Bay.

Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor may be the most famous 19th- century opera in the pre-Verdi bel canto tradition but it is also a great musical melodrama. Based on Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Bride of Lammermoor, the opera is a portrait of a young girl who is caught between warring clans and forced into an unwanted marriage by her brother, leading to murder and madness. Before Romeo and Juliet, Lucy of the Ashtons and Edgar of the Ravenswoods were the original Scottish star- crossed lovers.

To bring their tragedy to vibrant life, Donizetti’s opera requires singing of daunting agility and the theatrical acumen to make the doomed pair’s descent into despair and death credible. On Sunday afternoon at the South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center in Cutler Bay,  Miami Lyric Opera’s production of Donizetti’s masterpiece managed to meet and exceed most of these requirements.

Any performance of Lucia revolves first and foremost around the tragic heroine. Christine Roo Suits may be a star in the making. Tall and regal, Suits owned the stage. Initially she seemed to be playing the diva more than innocent Lucia but she soon showed her stage charisma and took theatrical wing. Her portrayal of Lucia’s confusion and despair in the wedding scene was devastating in sheer force. The sight of her entrance in a blood drenched wedding gown after killing the bridegroom Arturo was appropriately horrifying, and her hallucinations about marriage to her lover Edgardo as she embraced one of the chorus of wedding guests were palpably conveyed. One could truly believe this Lucia had been driven to madness.

Vocally Suits was even more impressive. Her sizable lyric-coloratura instrument has unusual strength and color in the lower register. She spun a radiant “Regnava nel silenzio”  and her scales and roulades in the cabaletta “Quando rapito in estasi” were clean and produced without strain at the top or breaks between registers. Suits’ Mad Scene was frightening as she paced the stage lost in her imagined world while spinning accurate, rapid-fire coloratura. With some additional experience and dramatic seasoning, this tremendously gifted young soprano may be headed for leading roles in major houses.

Romanian tenor Emanuel Cristian Caraman brought authentic Italianate ring to Edgardo. His strong lyric voice blended smoothly with Suits in the Act I duet and his denunciation of Lucia when he realizes she has signed the marriage contract was spine-tingling in its intensity. The  tomb scene can be anti-climactic after Lucia’s final collapse but not with Caraman’s impassioned singing. Before Edgardo’s stabbing himself to join his beloved in heaven, Caraman vaulted “Tu che a Dio” to the rafters, sung with golden tone and big-boned fervor.

With a baritone of voluminous power, Oscar Martinez captured much of Enrico Ashton’s conniving villainy. In duet with Suits, his sound turned more supple. Mikhail Smigelski’s deep, rolling Slavic basso timbre commanded attention in Raimondo’s narrative of Lucia’s breakdown.

As the ill-fated bridegroom Arturo Buklaw, Ray Gonzalez was a near-Pavarotti lookalike with a promising tenor voice of declamatory heft. Aruna Serbanescu made the most of Alisa’s brief lines, producing finely centered mezzo tones. Rolando Valdez was a capable Normanno. His recitative scene with Martinez was sung with particularly forceful vehemence. The famous Sextet and Act II finale as the opposing clans swear vengeance emerged vociferous and full-voiced.

Despite some brief out-of-sync singing, the MLO chorus under Pablo Hernandez was much improved, producing well-balanced corporate ensemble in the wedding scenes. Beverly Coulter conducted with a fine sense of bel canto melody while keeping the momentum at forward pace. The strings were consistently strong and Ana Maria Bolivar’s elegantly turned harp solo and Robert Billington’s reliable flute accompaniments to Suits’ solos took instrumental honors.

Painted backdrops from the Sormani-Stivanello stable, subtly lit by Kristina Villaverde, were serviceable. Carmen Mustellier’s multihued costumes brought color to the effective stage pictures. A small debit was that the chorus scenes were too static with the wedding guests registering little shock at Lucia’s madness.

Still Raffaele Cardone staged most of the opera effectively, particularly in the two protagonists’ scenes. With particularly fine singing by Suits and Caraman, this Lucia was one of MLO’s finest productions to date.

Miami Lyric Opera presents Rossini’s La Cenerentola 8 p.m. July 6 and 4 p.m. July 7 at the South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center in Cutler Bay. miamilyricopera.org

Posted in Performances

One Response to “With an impressive soprano debut, Miami Lyric Opera’s “Lucia” makes strong impact”

  1. Posted Feb 25, 2019 at 9:55 pm by Herschel Moore

    Mika Smigelski’s basso – moving.

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Mon Feb 25, 2019
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