GIUSEPPE PENNISI visits the
Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro for an
original and moving 'La Donna del Lago'
The thirty seventh edition of the Rossini Opera
Festival (ROF) was inaugurated in Pesaro on 8 August 2016 with La Donna del Lago ('TheLady of the Lake'). I was in the audience. La Donna del Lago, on a librettoby Andrea Leone Tottola based on Walter Scott's novel, deals with in-fighting between Scottish clans and the attempts of King James Stuart V (Juan Diego Flórez) to reconcile them. The 'lady
of the lake' is Elena (Salome Jicia), daughter of the chieftain of one of the clans; her fatherwants her to be married with one of his best fighters, Rodrigo (Micheal Spyres), but she is in love with a member of the opposite clan, Malcom (Varduhi Abrahamyan).
Disguised as a hunter, King James meets Elena on
the shore of the lake where she usually goes to reflect about herself and
her country's problems. He falls in love with her. They have a short but intense affair. In the end he pardons the rebellious clan and facilitates
her wedding with Malcom. Normally, the plot is presented in a holographic Scotland in the fourteenth century.
The conductor (Michele Mariotti) and the stage director (Damiano Michelietto) have worked on an engrossing idea.
The action takes place in an old house in bad shape in the eighteenth century; the lake can be imagined through the windows. Elena and Malcom have
been married for some fifty or even sixty years. All the characters of the plot are dead; on their living room table there is a
photo, a portrait of King James. Elena brings flowers to the photo portrait which irritates Malcom. As the memoryof the events leading to their marriage unfolds, Malcom reconciles with Elena; eventually, together they
offer flowers to the memory of the King. Two actors (Giusi Merli and Alessandro Baldinotti) are the old Elena and Malcom; they always remain on
stage. The staging is both original and moving.
The singers were excellent. The opera gave Juan Diego Flórez and Michael
Spyres the opportunity to show, respectively, the high Cs of
the former and the texture of the latter. The real surprises were the youngSalome Jicia and Varduhi Abrahamyan. Virtually unknown, they excited
the audience with their abilities, postures of voice and coloratura. I think they will go far.