Opera Concert Review







Midsummer Opera presents

A Concert Version of



Donizetti        Cammarano


Conductor:  David Roblou


Chorus Master. John Upperton

6 – 8 March 2009


St John’s Church Waterloo


and 13 March 2009


The Broadway Theatre - Catford









A review by Barry Grantham for EXTRA! EXTRA!


Lucia di Lammermore is the quintessential opera, giving everything an opera lover could ask for: soaring arias, rousing choruses, passionate duets, vocal pyrotechnics, and the most famous mad scene in all opera.  There is also fuel for ridicule and mocking parody. A concert version, as presented last night by Midsummer Opera at St John’s Waterloo, has the advantage in that the absurdities are less evident and one can concentrate on the music, but let’s have a look at the scenario taken from Sir Walter Scot’s ‘The Bride of Lammermore’    

Edgar, Master of Ravenswood has been wrongfully done out of his estates by a family enemy Lord Henry Ashton, To further establish his position Lord Henry decides to marry his sister, Lucia, to a certain Lord Arthur Bucklaw. This proposed liaison is hateful to Lucia whose heart is set on the Master of Ravenswood, Edgar. We learn that Henry has discovered that his sister has been meeting Edgar and vows to prevent the union.  In the next scene we meet the beautiful Lucia by a fountain, accompanied by her companion, Alice. She sings of a young woman murdered long ago by a member of the Ravenswood family whose ghost she has seen. Edgar arrives, with the news that he has to leave for France.  They vow eternal love and exchange rings. To persuade Lucia to marry Lord Bucklaw, Henry has a letter forged stating that Edgar’s passions are directed elsewhere.  Lucia is persuaded and agrees to the marriage.

The guests assemble in the great hall of the castle for the wedding. Lucia, in great distress has just signed the marriage contract, when in walks Edgar, who unaware of the duplicity curses Lucia and all the perfidious Ashton family.  The act curtain falls.  When it rises again the wedding celebrations continue but are interrupted by the news that Lucia has lost her reason and murdered her newly espoused.  Lucia herself now appears and we are treated to the famous mad scene in which she goes through an imaginary wedding with her beloved Edgar and after a most intricate and dazzling coloratura, is led away to her imminent death.  Edgar appears again and learning the truth stabs himself in order to join his beloved.   

Saddled with such a scenario, any composer or dramatist might be expected to subject his spectators with a turgid drama to horrify and purge the soul, but not so Donizetti, apart from some token timpani and tremolos in the overture, and a tolling bell in the third act, his sole intention is to entertain and delight and he succeeds beyond measure.   The director of a fully staged version is usually required to give some Gothic gloom to the story, not so the admirable musical director, David Roblou. He just lets Donizetti rip.  But let me assure you the piece and the playing are not devoid of subtlety and delicacy. For example, the role of Lucia herself is not a two dimensional prototype, but a believable creature, venerable, romantic in it’s early 19th century understanding, with her tales of ghosts, and her woodland assignations. She is attractive and one can believe in Edgar’s love for her. Jane Streeton admirably succeeds in conveying this, in a performance of great warmth as well as technical mastery. Many years ago I saw a production at the Met, New York, with the great Joan Sutherland, but I think Miss Sutherland drew admiration rather than affection. In
this production there is a moment in the mad scene when her responses in the dialogue with the flute, are longer spaced than expected and truly moving - thanks Miss Streeton, and Mr Roblou for this.

Other soloists are all good, adding their particular timbres to the sound picture, with particular praise for John Upperton throughout and very especially in the final aria, with which the opera concludes, in which Edgar laments the loss of his Innamorata -
vocally, dramatically and emotionally nothing less than superb.

The Midsummer Opera is something of a phenomenon. The getting together of the vast cast of musician, chorus and soloists and holding their own against the established organisations is a great achievement. Long may it continue.


. Fri 6th and Sat 7th March 2009 at 7.00pm and Sun 8th at 3.00pm

St John’s Church, Waterloo Road

Tickets:    £15 (Concessions £12)

Enquiries 0207 652 0070




 Fri.  13 March at 7.30pm

The Broadway Theatre, Catford Broadway. London SE6 4RU

Tickets:     £18 - £15 (Concessions available)

Box Office: 0208 690 0002








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