“Every theatre is an asylum, but an opera theatre is the ward for incurables.”
Being a core patient of the mentioned ward for incurables for more than ten years already, I’ve seen a lot. Considering that I was somehow almost instantly also backstage, I’ve seen maybe even more. By now I know that this genre does generate emotions – stronger, that any other one. Its very essence, the extending of time with emotion-soaked phrases, sounds like a deviation. There is rather an exuberant amount of madness considered normal – and I take advantage of it myself, as it just feels good in the indifference characteristic for the times we happen to live in now.
And so came the newest production of Lucia di Lammermoor in Budapest – an opera that I
don’t didn’t like and regarded as an extremely boring example of bel canto, an opera that I suffered through in its whole exactly once (in concert, by the way). Well, being honest I wasn’t expecting these emotions. I think even the emotions themselves, the platonic ideas of every possible human emotion were not expecting their appearances in this overwhelming intensity that came before, through, after and all around this premiere.
But in the middle of all that, the show. The show that genuinely reaches deepest, most obscure fibres of a human soul. And not with a cheap drama. A production that in its very matter and essence puts aside all of the background explosions.
The audience is seated and told a story which is unpleasantly contemporary, with an accent on unpleasantly rather than contemporary – the better word would be maybe timeless, if it was less pompous. A story, which we maybe already saw or heard, or even live in: and still we decide to ignore its existence. Pathology which may not seem that bad, we may think. A little dysfunctional, a little strange family, but nothing that special, there are worst cases, we assure ourselves. We shall not overthink it, we shall not interfere, we shall just stay shut and go on – regardless if we are the sad, complex villain, or lost lover, or dumb priest… regardless if we play a mute role of a spirit or the vocally elaborate protagonist.
We stay silent, we don’t overthink, we accept the anomalies.
Up to a point where we find ourselves faced with a blood-dripping murderer, maybe in our mirror. And even after the tragedy happened, for a while, we tend to negate the horror, we listen to the silence instead.
The silence after tastes rich and sweet like blood. And heartbreakingly sweet is the wordless plea of a lost soul, in her stolen seconds of never experienced happiness – magnified to minutes of spiritual, and even physical ecstasy through endless phrases and painstakingly punctuated with the most expressive high F that one may think of – and even this ridiculously high note, barely touched in a passage but undoubtedly there (as assured with a held one in the very end) is sang with intense colour and emotions.
I won’t repeat the same that numerous reviewers already said (in the moment I am publishing this post, we arrived to a number of 9 or 10, and mainly reasonable, reviews, that give justice to the show, see here for example). My job is not writing reviews. I’m living this Lucia, not watching it from a seat in the press row of Erkel Theatre with safety belt fastened and obligatory drink at the bar bought in the intermission.
One thing though: I loved it to bits and I’m sad that tomorrow there will be the last show. It brought emotions and an immense amount of beauty, and some breathtakingly good singing.
I brought pictures instead, a personal selection, to show and not tell, as the principal idea of writing says by the way.
And a video, just because it’s amazing.
OPTIC: T.M. 1:35, f=200, Jupiter-37-A
Lucia di Lammermoor, Hungarian State Opera – Erkel Theatre, premiere November 18th 2016
Stage: Máté Szabó, Music Direction: Balázs Kocsár