Sir Walter Scott published The Bride of Lammermoor in 1819 as one of his hugely successful Waverley novels which captured the imagination of European readers and effectively codified Scottish mythology and practice, not least reviving the wearing of the tartan. Donizetti was captivated by the romance of Scotland and composed his version of that story in 1832 as Lucia di Lammermoor. He included a brilliant mad scene for the title role soprano and a justly famous and beautiful sextet. In Australia, we associate the role with Joan Sutherland who made it her own following her breakthrough performance at Covent Garden in 1959. Now we are to have a new Lucia: Jessica Pratt, an Australian who has already made a name for herself in the role, in Europe and New York. Indeed she is only the third Australian to have sung the role at La Scala, her predecessors being Melba and Sutherland.
Nor is she entirely new to the role in Australia having sung it in a concert performance in 2016 for the enterprising Victorian Opera. She will open the Sydney Season in Lucia on 28 June (until 27 July); an exciting prospect.
The second opera of the season will be an old friend: Rigoletto, an old friend in the sense of being a much-loved opera but also in a much-loved production, one that we first mounted in 1991 with brilliant direction by Elijah Moshinsky and superb design by Michael Yeargan.
It opens on 6 July with an international cast.
Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Subscribe – Try a month free