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Set in the castles of Scotland, this tragic Bel Canto masterpiece, with its ravishing melodies and vocal thrills, is Gaetano Donizetti’s crowning achievement.  A tale of feuding clans, a forced marriage, political maneuvering, secret love, jealousy…and madness!  It boasts some of the most stunning music in all of opera.

The emotionally fragile Lucia is driven to madness when she is manipulated by her brother into marrying a man she does not love to save her family’s estate and possibly their lives.

Featuring the most famous mad scene in the operatic repertory, this timeless masterpiece evokes the passion and desperation of a woman used as a political pawn.

 

CAST (alphabetically)

By Gaetano Donizetti, Directed by Olivia Stapp, Conducted by Maestro Robert Ashens, Produced by Ellen St. Thomas, Set Design by Jean-Francois Revon, Lighting by Elle Ghini.

Performed by;

Michael Belle,                Normanno, Enrico’s retainer,

Alex Boyer,                   Sir Edgardo di Ravenswood, Lucia’s beloved,

Ray Chavez                   Lord Arturo Bucklaw, Lucia’s betrothed

Paul Cheak,                   Raimondo Bide-the-Bent, Calvinist chaplain,

Eileen Meredith,            Lucia Ashton,

Branislav Radakovic,      Lord Enrico Ashton, Lucia’s brother,

Ellen St. Thomas,          Alisa, Lucia’s handmaid,

Chorus:  Donatella Bettinelli, Joanne Bogart, Maria Caycedo, Charlotte Khuner, Joy Korst-Graham, Allison Melendez, Marion Ponte, Sarah Sophia Pun, Jackson Beaman, Rick Bogart, Robert Boyd, Michael Crozier, Philip Harris, Elliot Nguyen, Hank Smith 

Director’s Notes from Olivia Stapp 

Lucia is well known as a vehicle for a virtuoso soprano, that is, a singer capable of exceptional technical singing feats. The opera demands extraordinary dynamics both vocally and interpretively.  Many phenomenal singers have assayed this role since it was first written; the most famous in the last century were Lily Pons, Beverly Sills, Maria Callas, and Joan Sutherland. Their beautiful interpretations are readily available on recording for us to marvel at today. We are fortunate to experience their astonishing dexterity, and their personal vocal daring.
 
The ultimate vocal show case, the non plus ultra operatic Mad scene, offers the prima donna opportunity for original embellishments, virtuosic. obbligato with flute,  (it was glass harmonica in Donizetti’s time), and a deep psychological portrayal of a disintegrating soul.  It is the high point of the work.
 
But one cannot overlook the other roles in the opera. Each is a demanding vocal tour de force. The bankrupt brother Enrico, (baritone), is desperate to form an advantageous alliance by marrying off his sister Lucia, in exchange for protection from his enemies. Donizetti wrote music for this character expressing such vocal rage, demanding the interpreter to practically explode with fury.  The gentle and majestic music, with long sumptuous phrases, is saved for the bass, Bide-the-Bent, the chaplain trying to keep the peace. The tenor, our hero, has extended rapturous melody, singing arias of heart-wrenching beauty as he decides to take his own life and join his beloved in death. Donizetti also uses the chorus as another character; rather than the customary static ensemble, here the chorus is a sinister presence of countrymen, plotting to maintain their power. They regard the insanity of Lucia, and her murder of Arturo, with brutal indifference, and are intolerant of her unwillingness to sacrifice herself to perpetuate their high status. She weeps and hallucinates in her bloodied gown, but no one is concerned over her mental breakdown. How dare she do this to them! 
 
director must never lose sight of the composer’s intention to showcase the singing while at the same time telling the great love story that it encompasses. The composition itself is very compact; there is not a wasted scene or even note. The tension never lets up, and each scene is constructed for maximum dramatic and musical effect. The opera drives forward relentlessly, pressing on toward the undoing of the two lovers,  who are ultimately destroyed by the hatred and ambitions of those around them. They are engulfed by tribalism and violence endemic to their time and place. Much like the Romeo and Juliet legend, both lovers are crushed by political circumstance. The Ashtons and Ravenswoods, like the Montagues and Capulets, live in an extremely violent era, with small fiefdoms and clans warring constantly. Always present are shadowy figures dealing in death and intrigue. Here is a tale of deception and coercion in which the innocent lovers are trapped and devoured by the historical moment.  It is an immortal tale: lovers wiped out by turbulent forces beyond themselves.
 
Donzetti, in this his most enduring masterpiece, underscores it all with unforgettable music, and gets to the point quickly, urgently. Lucia di Lammermoor is high drama, highly charged!

 

–Olivia Stapp

Alexander Boyer as Edgardo Ravenswood in Lucia di Lammermooor

Alexander Boyer performed the role of the heroic Manrico in last year’s production of Il Trovatore.  This January, Alex brings his powerful, soaring tenor voice to the role of Edgardo Ravenwood in Lucia di Lammermoor.

During his residency at Opera San José, Alexander Boyer performed the roles of Nadir (The Pearl Fishers), Eisenstein (Die Fledermaus), Manrico (Il trovatore), Rinuccio (Gianni Schicchi),the title role in the company premiere of Mozart’s Idomeneo,Canio (Pagliacci), Alfredo (La traviata) and the title role in Faust. Other roles performed for the company included Konstantin Levin (Anna Karenina), Mario Cavaradossi (Tosca) and Rodolfo(La bohème.) Previous seasons have featured Mr. Boyer as Des Grieux (Manon), Ruggero (La rondine), Nemorino (The Elixir of Love), Ferrando (Così fan tutte), and Don José (Carmen).  

A New York native, Mr. Boyer holds degrees from Boston University and Manhattan School of Music. He has sung the roles Arkady in Lee Hoiby’s A Month in the Country, the Chevalier de la Force (Dialogues des Carmelites), Alfredo (La traviata), and Luigi (Il tabarro). He has participated in the Merola and Santa Fe Opera programs, and is a winner of the Mario Lanza scholarship award.

Robert Ashens conducts Lucia di Lammermooor

San Francisco-based musician, Robert Ashens, is Music Director and Conductor of Island City Opera’s production of Lucia di Lammermoor. Robert’s distinguished career as pianist and conductor has brought him to many world capitols. He is Artistic Director / co-founder of West Coast Opera (Opera Oregon). He recently debuted with Berkeley, Anchorage and Golden Gate Opera companies and he co-founded the Johann Strauss Society of America..

Robert also conducted Il Trovatore for Virago Theatre. The success of that production prompted the launch of Island City Opera.

The Maestro also conducts ballet and symphonic works with companies internationally. This summer he returns to Eugene for Sound of Music (Shedd Institute’s OFAM), Anchorage (with Eugene Ballet’s Nutcracker) and Anchorage Opera’s Macbeth and Sound of Music.

Maestro Ashens has toured nationally as conductor with the Broadway companies of A Chorus Line and Jesus Christ Superstar, premiered many new works of both Broadway and Opera and maintains a monthly program, “West Coast Opera Presents Opera Night at Servino’s” in Tiburon.

With a repertoire of over one hundred operas, he has conducted to great acclaim for regional opera companies throughout the United States and in many major cities of Europe especially in Italy. He has also accompanied many opera luminaries in concert. Ashens is in constant demand as a lecturer, accompanist and program director for concerts and recitals nationwide.

Michael Belle in the role of Normanno

Michael is an Alameda resident who’s ringing tenor voice has been heard at San Francisco Opera since 2009.  Michael sang the role of Ruiz in Virago Theatre’s production of Verdi’s Il Trovatore in February 2014.

For ICO’s production of Lucia, Michael performs the role of Normanno, Enrico’s evil henchman.  Listen for the scene where Normanno gives Enrico forged letters, purportedly from Edgardo, Lucia’s beloved, describing rather unfaithful, roguish behavior.

In March 2015, Michael will appear in Island City Opera’s production of Puccini’s Il Tabarro, as Luigi, Giorgette’s clandestine lover.  As is often the case for romantic tenor roles, he doesn’t make it out of Il Tabarro alive.

Ray Chavez as Sir Arturo Bucklaw

An Alameda resident, Ray has performed with San Francisco Opera, Opera San Jose, Pocket Opera, Open Opera, StageMasters, Alameda Civic Light Opera and Altarena Playhouse.   With Virago he sang the major roles of Rodolfo in La Bohème, Alfredo in La Traviata, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni.

Ray premiered two song cycles for tenor and piano by Berkeley composer Aaron Blumenfeld. It was singing with the Bracebridge Dinners in Yosemite where he returned to the opera repertoire after a twenty-year hiatus.

For ICO’s production of Lucia, Ray sings the role of Sir Arturo Bucklaw.  Lucia’s brother, Enrico, desperately needs Lucia to marry Arturo to cement their relationship as friend and defender, and to save their fortune and quite possibly their lives.  Just as Lucia relents and signs the marriage contract, her beloved, Edgardo barges in.  Confronted with the signed marriage contract, Edgardo retreats brokenhearted.  Arturo has won Lucia, but, he doesn’t survive the wedding night.

Paul Cheak as Raimondo Bidebent, Calvinist Chaplain

Paul Cheak, Bass-baritone has been performing for 40 years appearing with San Diego Opera, Berkeley / West Edge Opera, North Bay Opera, and Festival Opera of Walnut Creek.  In January 2014, Paul performed Ferrando, Captain of the Guard in Virgao Theatre’s production of Il Trovatore.

For ICO’s Lucia, Paul sings the role of Raimondo Bidebent, Chaplain and Advisor to Lucia’s brother Enrico.  Raimondo is the voice of authority and tradition guiding Lucia to the sacrifices that she must make to save her family and herself.

Paul’s many roles include Mephistopheles in Faust, Dr. Dulcamara, Dr. Bartolo, the title role in Falstaff, Gianni Schicchi, Don Pasquale. Germont, Grandpa Moss, Silvio, Dr Falke, Zuniga, Ferrando, Raimondo Bide-the-Bent, the King of Egypt in Aida, Simeon in L’Enfant Prodigue.

Paul’s additional repertoire includes oratorio, musical comedy, cabaret, jazz, blues, bluegrass and gospel.

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