Lucia di Lammermoor

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Work data
Title: Lucia di Lammermoor
Fanny Tacchinardi-Persiani first performed in London on April 5, 1838

Fanny Tacchinardi-Persiani first performed in London on April 5, 1838

Shape: Dramma lirico in three acts
Original language: Italian
Music: Gaetano Donizetti
Libretto : Salvadore Cammarano
Literary source: The Bride of Lammermoor by Walter Scott
Premiere: September 26, 1835
Place of premiere: Naples , Teatro San Carlo
Playing time: approx. 2 ½ hours
Place and time of the action: Scotland, late 16th century
  • Lord Enrico Ashton ( baritone )
  • Lucia, his sister ( soprano )
  • Sir Edgardo di Ravenswood, her lover ( tenor )
  • Lord Arturo Bucklaw (tenor)
  • Raimondo Bidebent, educator and confidante of Lucias ( bass )
  • Alisa, Lucia's confidante ( mezzo-soprano )
  • Normanno, captain of the forces of Ravenswood (tenor)
  • Knights and noble ladies, hunters, soldiers, residents of Lammermoor and Ravenswood etc. ( choir )

Lucia di Lammermoor is an opera (original name: "dramma lirico") in two parts and three acts by Gaetano Donizetti . The first performance took place on September 26, 1835 at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples . A French version revised by Donizetti premiered at the Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris on August 6, 1839. The libretto was written by Salvadore Cammarano , based on the novel Die Braut von Lammermoor ( The Bride of Lammermoor ) by Walter Scott . The opera is about two lovers from the two warring noble families Ashton and Ravenswood, who are only united in death. Donizetti's work is considered to be one of the highlights of the Belcanto epoch and the ideal type of romantic opera with the so-called “mad aria” ( Il dolce suono ) as the climax.


The action takes place in Scotland towards the end of the 16th century against the background of feuds between Catholics and Protestants. The Ashton family has for some time ousted the opposing Ravenswoods family, supporters of Maria Stuart , and taken their castle, which is located in the area of ​​the village of Lammermoor.

First part: “La partenza” - The departure

first act

First image: Garden (or atrium) in Ravenswood Castle

Enrico Ashton and his followers search the area for a stranger. Enrico learns that his sister Lucia loves his archenemy Edgardo. The men confirm that they saw Edgardo nearby. Enrico swears vengeance ( Cruda, funesta smania (cruel, sinister frenzy) ).

Second picture: Park

At night Lucia waits for Edgardo with her companion Alisa in the forest. Lucia is worried: The ghost of a woman appeared to her who was stabbed to death in this place by her lover, a Ravenswood, out of jealousy ( Regnava nel silenzio (He ruled in silence) ). Alisa asks her mistress to renounce unhappy love. Edgardo appears to say goodbye to Lucia. Before that, he would like to be reconciled with Enrico and ask him for Lucia's hand. When she tries to dissuade him, his old hatred of the warring family breaks through again. In parting, the lovers swear eternal loyalty. ( Sulla tomba che rinserra (Above the grave that encloses the betrayed father) ).

Second part: "Il contratto nuziale" - The marriage contract

Second act

First picture: Cabinet in Lord Ashton's apartments

Normanno and Enrico intercepted all of Edgardo and Lucia's letters. They unsettle the young woman and try to force her to marry Arturo, who wants to support Enrico politically. A forged letter to prove Edgardo's infidelity is supposed to make her compliant. Enrico and Raimondo put them under pressure.

Second picture: Magnificent hall, lavishly decorated for Arthur's reception

Wedding party. Enrico and Arturo greet the guests. Lucia is ushered in and urged to sign the marriage contract. When Edgardo suddenly rushes in and demands his rights, she collapses. He angrily curses her for her alleged infidelity ( Chi mi frena in tal momento (Who is holding me back at such a moment?) ).

Third act

First picture: Salon on the ground floor of the Wolferag tower

During a thunderstorm, Enrico visits Edgardo in his remaining tower house. He stirs Edgardo's jealousy and wants revenge on his enemy. They arrange to meet the next morning for a duel at the tombs of the Ravenswoods.

Second picture: Gallery of the Castle of Ravenswood

The happy wedding party is interrupted: Raimondo reports that Lucia stabbed her groom Arturo and went mad. Lucia appears in a blood-covered dress with a knife in her hand. In her mind she experiences a church wedding with Edgardo (insane aria Il dolce suono […] Spargi d'amaro pianto (The sweet sound… bitter laments) , in the original version accompanied by a glass harmonica , replaced by a flute at an early stage, used again for the first time in Munich 1991 under Michel Plasson ).

Third picture: Outside the castle

Edgardo is expecting Enrico for a duel ( Tombe degli avi miei (Graves of my fathers) ). He learns that Lucia has gone mad and is dying to ask for him. Then the death knell rings. Edgardo follows his beloved to death and stabs himself ( Tu che a Dio spiegasti l'ali (You who spread your wings to God) ).


The orchestral line-up for the opera includes the following instruments:

Work history

Lucia di Lammermoor was a great success from its triumphant premiere on September 26, 1835. Fanny Tacchinardi-Persiani as Lucia, Gilbert Duprez as Edgardo and Domenico Cosselli as Enrico as well as Achille Balestracci / Gioacchini (Arturo Buklaw), Carlo Porto-Ottolini (Raimondo), Teresa Zappucci (Alisa) and Anafesto [Teofilo] sang in the Neapolitan Teatro San Carlo. Rossi (Normanno). Nicola Festa was the musical director. The set was designed by Antonio Niccolini .

In the following years the leading theaters in Europe took over the work: in 1836 the opera was performed in Rome, in 1837 in Vienna and Paris, in 1838 in London and in 1839 in La Scala in Milan . Lucia di Lammermoor , along with Don Pasquale, is one of the few Donizetti's operas that has had an unbroken performance tradition since its premiere.

The popularity of the work is also reflected in an extremely extensive discography, which lists over 176 recordings for the period between 1929 and 2009.

The success of the work is linked to a shift in its interpretation, which became apparent from the first performance and increasingly since the middle of the 19th century: “The performance tradition of Lucia was characterized from the beginning by misunderstandings about the vocal type of the title role. Conceived by the composer as a coloratura flexible, but the character of a dramatic soprano without extreme height (...) the role already did not fully correspond to the voice type of the premiere interpreter Tacchinardi-Persiani, a specialist in virtuoso ornamental singing. With her numerous Lucia appearances all over Europe, she shaped and strengthened the false role image of Lucia as a high coloratura soprano in the following years. ”Not only cadences and trills were inserted into the part, but also parts of them, for example by half or a whole Tone transposed downwards to make peak notes easier for the respective singer. The part became more and more a pure bravura piece for prima donnas like Jenny Lind , Adelina Patti , Emma Albani, Nellie Melba , Selma Kurz , Frieda Hempel , Luisa Tetrazzini , Toti dal Monte or Lily Pons . This alignment had an impact on the entire work, to which extensive cuts and changes were made over the course of time, in some cases entire scenes were left out.

It was not until the 1950s that a return to the original dramatic conception began. Milestones for this were in particular the interpretations by Maria Callas (1954–1955 at La Scala in Milan and in Berlin under Herbert von Karajan , although significant cuts were retained, such as the entire first picture of the third act) and by Joan Sutherland (around 1959 at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden ). Singers such as Leyla Gencer , Anna Moffo , Beverly Sills , Luciana Serra , Renata Scotto , Lucia Aliberti , Edita Gruberová , Mariella Devia, June Anderson , Stefania Bonfadelli and most recently Anna Netrebko continued this tradition. From 1960 onwards, the bars were gradually reopened. This (re) development came to an end with the record recording from 1976 under Jesús López Cobos (with Montserrat Caballé , José Carreras , Vicente Sardinero and Samuel Ramey ).


To listen

Music from Lucia di Lammermoor has been quoted again and again, for example in films such as Angels and Fools ( Where Angels Fear to Tread , 1991). At the beginning of the 1944 film Das Haus der Lady Alquist , Ingrid Bergman sings Lucia's madness aria ( Il dolce suono ), in Das Fifth Element the Diva Plavalaguna (sung by Inva Mula ) sings this aria. The aria, again sung by Inva Mula, is also used in 22 Bullets . In Departed - Unter Feinden the sextet Chi mi frena in tal momento can be heard as a ringtone on Costello's cell phone.

To read

In the novel, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert Emma and Charles Bovary attend a performance of the French version of the opera (Part 2, Chapter 15).

In his novel Das Hotel New Hampshire, John Irving recurs several times and in different contexts (Chapters 10, 11) to Donizetti's opera and the madness aria it contains.


  • Norbert Miller : Maria di Rohan. In: Piper's Encyclopedia of Musical Theater. Volume 2: Works. Donizetti - Henze. Piper, Munich / Zurich 1987, ISBN 3-492-02412-2 , pp. 1-9.

Web links

Commons : Lucia di Lammermoor  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Norbert Miller : Lucia di Lammermoor. In: Piper's Encyclopedia of Musical Theater. Volume 2: Works. Donizetti - Henze. Piper, Munich / Zurich 1987, ISBN 3-492-02412-2 , p. 1.
  2. Klaus Gehrke Donizetti's "Lucia" - Belcanto at its best. CD review on Deutschlandfunk , January 4, 2015, accessed on January 21, 2019.
  3. ^ September 26, 1835: "Lucia di Lammermoor". In: L'Almanacco di Gherardo Casaglia ., Accessed on August 7, 2019.
  4. ^ Discography on Lucia di Lammermoor at Operadis, accessed on August 7, 2019.
  5. ^ Norbert Miller : Maria di Rohan. In: Piper's Encyclopedia of Musical Theater. Volume 2: Works. Donizetti - Henze. Piper, Munich / Zurich 1987, ISBN 3-492-02412-2 , p. 7.
  6. ^ Norbert Miller : Maria di Rohan. In: Piper's Encyclopedia of Musical Theater. Volume 2: Works. Donizetti - Henze. Piper, Munich / Zurich 1987, ISBN 3-492-02412-2 , p. 8.
  7. Operaandcinema
  8. Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, Gallimard, 2001, p. 300-10.