The Scottish Slasher

The Dayton Opera present “Lucia de Lammermoor”

By Eric Street

Hide your cutlery! On Friday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 28 at 3 p.m. in the Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center, Dayton Opera will present Gaetano Donizetti’s chilling tragedy “Lucia di Lammermoor.” The opera kicks off the passionate 2012-2013 Occupy Opera Season.

Despite her unusual hoarseness, probably due to Dayton’s high pollen count, stage director Kathleen Clawson is anything but speechless about Dayton Opera’s upcoming “Lucia di Lammermoor.”

“Lucia is a wonderful piece – some of the most beloved music in all of opera is there.  You’ve got the sextet, you’ve got Lucia’s fabulous Mad Scene – it’s an incredible tour de force for coloratura sopranos.  Every single character in the opera has their vocal star moment,” says Clawson.

“Lucia has a great story, based on the original Sir Walter Scott novel.  When the book was written, it was a wild hit.  People started wearing Scottish garb all over Europe when the book came out.  That answers the question, ‘Why did Donizetti write a Scottish opera?’ – Scotland was all the rage!

As a woman, perhaps I have a special sympathy for Lucia, the way she is manipulated and used for the political aspirations of her brother, the way she is treated as a commodity by her husband.  Really, the only good person onstage is Lucia.  She’s motivated purely by love, and that’s what makes her crazy.”

By all accounts the cast sounds promising. “It takes truly talented singing artists to recreate the masterful music of Donizetti’s demanding score, and that’s what we have in our Dayton Opera cast,” explains Dayton Opera Artistic Director Thomas Bankston. “We are excited to have company debuts in three of the leading roles of this production, soprano Angela Mortellaro as Lucia, tenor Joshua Kohl as Edgardo and baritone Lee Poulos as Enrico. Returning to Dayton Opera in the role of Raimondo is bass Matthew Burns.”

“We have a truly phenomenal cast, with wonderful voices to carry Donizetti’s beautiful, demanding music,” agrees Clawson.  “They’re all young and truly believable in their roles.  It doesn’t hurt at all that they’re the appropriate ages for the roles they’re singing, and they move well, too. We have a very talented up-and-coming group of young American opera singers.”

Dayton Opera favorites Kathleen Clawson, stage director, and Joseph Mechavich, conductor, who collaborated on last season’s “La Bohème,” return to lend their able direction to the “Lucia” production.

What should the audience expect?  “It’s a beautiful production,” says Clawson.  “The sets are from Cincinnati and the costumes are from Utah.  ‘Lucia’ is the perfect sort of opera for this time of the year – there are plenty of ghosts referred to in the text, and there’s also plenty of blood.  If someone wants to get their Halloween groove on, this is a great opportunity for them,” laughs Clawson.

Is there any advice she’d have for a first-time opera-goer?  “Yes, abandon yourself totally to this gripping story of a young girl, told through glorious music,” concludes Clawson.

About the Opera

Gaetano Donizetti wrote “Lucia di Lammermoor” in 1835 at the height of his reputation as an opera composer.  Rossini had retired from operatic composition and Bellini had died shortly before the Lucia’s premiere, which left Donizetti for a time as the undisputed genius of Italian opera.

Donizetti’s pre-eminence as a composer was simultaneous with a great upsurge of European interest in the history and culture of Scotland. The perceived romance of Scottish wars and feuds, as well as Scottish folklore and mythology, intrigued 19th century readers and audiences.  Sir Walter Scott makes extensive use of these themes in his novel “The Bride of Lammermoor.” Salvadore Cammarano wrote the Italian libretto loosely based upon Sir Walter Scott‘s historical novel.

Learn More

There are several opportunities to learn all about “Lucia di Lammermoor.” Back by popular demand, Art & Arias returns to Dayton Art Institute, 456 Belmonte Park North on Sunday Oct. 21 at 2:00 pm. This lively hour-long look at opera and art features musical performances and insight into how the visual arts relate to this production. Art & Arias is free and open to the public.

Free and informative Opera Overture presentations, with opera aficionado and University of Dayton professor Dr. Sam Dorf will be held Sunday, Oct. 21 at 5 p.m. at Books & Co. at The Greene and Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 3211 Lakeview Ave.

The Mid-Day Arts Café series continues. On Tuesday, Oct. 23, Bankston, Clawson and Mechavich will provide insights into the upcoming production and the rest of the Dayton Opera season. Tickets are $12 and include a box lunch from Citilites Restaurant & Bar. Lunch begins at 11:30 a.m. and the presentation starts promptly at noon.

Enjoy pre-performance entertainment and food-by-the-bite and beverages on sale in the Wintergarden beginning one-hour prior to the performance. For ticket holders, a 20-minute “Opera Preview” with Dr. Dorf will take place one hour prior to each performance.

The Dayton Opera presents “Lucia de Lammermor” on Friday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 28 at 3 p.m. in the Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center, 1 W. Second St. Tickets from $36 to $92 are available at Ticket Center Stage (937) 228-3630 or online at

Reach DCP freelance writer Eric Street at

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Eric Street is Professor of Music at UD with a doctorate from Indiana University. His Carnegie Hall debut led to performances in 36 countries on six continents. An opera lover, he’s taught Opera History and accompanied over two-dozen singers from the Metropolitan and NYC Opera. Reach him at

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