In my opinion, stage director Mary Zimmerman should be banned from every opera house, everywhere. Her prior efforts, including a terribly staged Sonnambula, where she was booed by the audience, reflect a lack of in depth knowledge of opera in general, and the specific work in particular. By setting Lucia in Victorian times, she destroys the dramatic tension caused by feuding Scottish families that Sir Walter Scott wrote of and which Cammarano used for his libretto. By the age of Victoria, people just didn't do the feud thing anymore; it was much too ... untidy.
That said, musically and, in some cases dramatically, this is an exceptional performance.
I am an admitted fan of Anna Netrebko, and have taken a bit of flak, gentle reader, for expressing my admiration for both her vocal skills and dramatic ones in reviews here. While I recognize that the "favorite soprano" thing can get some folks' drillies in a knot, most those favorites are deceased or retired. For me, Netrebko has a fabulous instrument; not perfect, mind, but exceptional nonetheless, with rich tones, incredible vowel pronunciation and an even production from bottom to top. While not quite as agile as some of her coloratura sisters, her Lucia is well realized. Dramatically, she's the real deal.
Filling in for an ailing Rolando Villazon, we have, I bellieve, the breakthrough performance from Piotr Beczala. In her introduction, hostess Natalie Dessay notes that this may be "his moment" and it sure was. There is nothing negative in this Edgardo, and the voice and charm he displays here are some of the reasons that his career has taken off so well. I find him to be one of the best and exciting of the modern tenors,
Mariusz Kwiecien is a very talented baritone. If you have not caught his great Dr. Malatesta in Don Pasquale, you have missed a real treat. Here he brings that lovely, rich voice and good acting skills to the serious role of Lucia's brother Enrico, the "villain of the piece". Flawless in all dimensions.
Ildar Abdrazakov brings his rich bass and well developed acting skills to the role of Raimondo, the Ashton's Padre (in the religious sense). It's a rich role with Donizetti's wonderful melodies and he executes it very, very well.
Chorus and orchestra do well as one would expect from the Met, with Marco Armiliato doing a committed job from the pit.
Disc quality is superb, which is what I have come to expect from DG. Sound in the DTS mode continues to amaze.
And to give the devil his due (well, her due), the staging of the fountain scene with the spectre of the drowned girl Lucia sings about is a nice touch, but the drama falls apart without that tension caused by the feud, and the sextet's staging makes one weep in frustration for the opportunity missed.
I am glad to have this performance, gentle reader, but i'd be happier if Ms. Zimmerman had stayed on Broadway and left opera to those who know, love and respect it.