Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Lucia di Lammermoor
Sarasota Opera

Kathleen Kim and Joshua Kohl
When conductor Anthony Barrese dropped his baton and Timpanist Gregg Koyle executed the long roll that begins the overture to Lucia di Lammermoor, chills went up my spine hearing live music, nothing but air between me and the orchestra. This set the stage for a fine performance of Donizetti's best known opera. There is a reason that Sarasota Opera is a destination for opera tours every year, not only because of the lovely weather in the middle of winter elsewhere, but because of the quality of what artistic director Victor di Renzi puts before his public. Every year this company puts together a mix of masterpieces and less well known operas, giving fans a chance to hear live opera of quite decent quality.

Lucia di Lammermoor requires a soprano of the highest order; her mad scene is not for beginners and Kathleen Kim delivered the goods throughout the long very difficult role. The opening fountain scene, introduced by the famous harp solo fabulously played by Megan Levin is beautifully sung with endless legato. Ms. Kim is not a natural born actress, but with strong direction she can be very effective. Here, though she delivers a performance that draws its excitement from her singing, her acting could have had more definition. The mad scene in act three, which is what many people come to see, is beautifully delivered. Ms. Kim has a smallish coloratura soprano, best in its upper reaches. I was brought up in an era of bigger voiced singers specializing in this repertoire. The Met recently has fielded some singers who have not vocalized the part with nearly the excitement that Ms Kim does. Her interaction with the flute obbligato (played by Marie Tachouet) in the slow section is real virtuoso singing. The cabaletta rises to even more exciting heights as she tosses off d's, and e's above high C. At the performance I attended, the audience went wild. She is well matched by the Edgardo of Joshua Kohl, the most Italianate of the performance's voices. There is the right kind of heft or squillo in everything he sings. He also exhibits a firm legato which is a key ingredient for this part. Lee Poulis as Lucia's brother Enrico and Young-Bok Kim as tutor Raimondo fill out the household honorably, although the cutting of the scene between the two robs both roles of some of their importance.

Sarasota Opera offers traditional settings by Robert O'Hearn and costumes by Howard Tsvi Kaplan. Very traditional opera directing by Brian Robertson does not allow the story to catch fire dramatically. It is possible to follow the story, but the relationships remain generic when they might be more interesting if more specific. The result is a chance to hear a very decent live performance of a cornerstone of Italian Opera. One can obtain recordings with super star sopranos, several of whom made Lucia an important part of their repertoire, but it is not possible to duplicate the visceral excitement of live, as I mentioned before.

Conductor Anthony Barrese leads a nice Italianate performance, with everything in place. The entire orchestra plays better than I have heard in medium sized European Opera companies, perhaps helped by years of training under Maestro di Renzi. The horns (Eric Bell, Lyndsie Wilson, and Mackenzie Merrill-Wick), very prominent in the openings of several scenes, play especially beautifully, and French Horns are not easy to play. This is a great chance to hear a very good performance of perhaps the best know bel canto opera in the repertoire.

Sarasota Opera presents Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor through March 23. 61 N. Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota. For tickets and information call (941) 366-8450 or visit

Lord Enrico Ashton: Lee Poulis
Lucia Ashton: Kathleen Kim
Sir Edgardo of Ravenswood: Joshua Kohl
Lord Arturo Bucklaw: James Chamberlain*
Raimondo Bidebent: Young-Bok Kim
Alisa: Daryl Freedman*
Normanno: Steven Uliana*
* Sarasota Opera Studio Artist

Conductor: Anthony Barrese
Stage Director: Brian Robertson
Scenic Designer: Robert O'Hearn
Costume Designer: Howard Tsvi Kaplan
Lighting Designer: Ken Yunker
Wigs and Make-Up designe: Georgianna Eberhard
Chorus Master: Roger L. Bingaman
Artistic Director: Victor Di Renzi

Photo: Rod Milington

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