Regina Opera Company, currently celebrating its 46th season, is bringing back a classic production for its dedicated fan base. An adaptation of “Lucia di Lammermoor” by Gaetano Donizetti, one of his most popular works, is coming to back to Regina.
Composed in 1835, the tragedy — which is often compared to “Romeo and Juliet” — takes place in Scotland in the 1600s. The story centers on a feud, with Lucia caught between her own family and her love for Edgardo, who is considered a rival to Lucia’s brothers. A series of heartbreaking scenes follow.
Regina Opera Company President Francine Garber-Cohen says attendees will get a great bang for their buck due to the show’s production value.
“The performance itself will include a full orchestra. We also have English subtitles projected above the stage so everything the performers sing will be translated, just like on television,” she said.
As far as the cast, Garber-Cohen is thrilled about the performers that will portray the story’s iconic characters. “Some singers are making their debut performances with Regina Opera in this production and we are really lucky to have them,” she said. “Most have performed here before. I have to say the voices are beautiful and powerful. There are lots of new singers we were lucky to get. In New York City, we have a constant flow of singers. People come from all over.”
Stage manager Linda Lehr, who is directing this opera for the third time, is equally pleased with the cast. “We have a really incredible cast that are up and coming,” she said, naming Meghan Picerno, who plays Lucia, as a notable talent. “Not only do they have beautiful voices, but they haveacting ability. You care about them in character, even the villains.”
Since it’s a tale set in the 17th century, many people have asked Lehr if the show should be modernized for contemporary audiences. However, she believes the story and music have stood the test of time for a reason.
“Being in a specific period such as the 16th century, audiences go with it and like to see that era and the costumes,” she said, adding that one of the most popular television shows today is “Game of Thrones,” a period piece. “It transcends the period. Everyone has been in love with someone desperately as a teenager. It’s the same reason why ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is popular.”
Garber-Cohen says the sets aren’t massive or elaborate, stressing that it’s the songs and performances that make the opera shine. “Singing is what this opera is all about. Many people that are coming to see the show also listen to the records and CDs at home,” she said. “It’s the singing that carries the opera.”
“The whole point is, do you care?” added Lehr. “Our job as directors is to make audiences care about what happens to these people.”
According to Lehr, who has been Regina’s principal stage director since 1998 and has a background as an actress, the stage combat is a highlight of the production. “There are some spectacular sword fights you wouldn’t normally see in opera. We all had to pay attention to details and train how to wear and draw a sword, how to attack and defend,” she said.
Lehr noted that she finds something new in “Lucia di Lammermoor” each time. “It’s really interesting to see what changes when directing,” she said. “You have different singers. You have grown as well and your understanding of the piece deepens a bit more.”
“Lucia di Lammermoor” makes its debut on Saturday, March 3 at 3 p.m. at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Auditorium, 5902 Sixth Avenue. Additional performances will take place on Sunday, March 6, Saturday, March 12 and Sunday, March 13, all at 3 p.m. Tickets are $25. Seniors and students can get in for $20, teenagers for $5 and children for free. To purchase tickets, visit www.reginaopera.org.