Night outs in Montreal with a group of friends are what I look forward to during the work week. And come Friday, I was pumped for dinner at a hip downtown restaurant followed by Opera McGill's Lucia di Lammermoor at the historic Monument National. The talent and level of performance of McGill students never cease to amaze me, and I am always looking forward to the next opera. Plus, this Donizetti's opera is one of my all-time favourites, so I was curious to see how Opera McGill would decide to stage it.
Before attending the performance, I strongly suggest watching the mini Youtube series that Opera McGill does for their productions. Filmmaker Anne Kostalas takes us inside the opera with sneak-peaks of the rehearsals and the costume atelier. The students also give their point of views on their characters which is great insight on what to expect from their stage performance.
Three Lucias, one mad scene
''We have three viable Lucias. Gina Hanzlik, Carolyn Beaudoin and Brittany Rae all see her as very different and are bringing great interpretations to the role with subtle changes to fit who their Lucia is.'' said stage manager Russell Wustenberg. Gina Hanzlik was the first to perform the role and gave an incredible performance on Friday night. It is clear that she has put extensive thought into her character; from setting the opera innocently in love to complete powerlessness as she is forced into an arranged marriage, and finally, driven to utter madness. During the famous mad scene, you could have heard a needle drop. The audience was completely transported and gasped for air, awaiting the final moment.
A drink with your opera?
And an evening at the opera would not be complete without a drink! Since Lucia di Lammermoor is set in Scotland - more precisely in the Lowlands - and the opera premiered in Naples, Italy, we suggest pairing your opera evening with either red Italian wine or Scotch (of course). Lacryma Christi de Vesuvio is a Neapolitan type of wine from Campania and it is dry, medium-bodied with firm tannins. Great with tomato sauce, it will pair up nicely with a thin crust Italian pizza. Plus, to add even more drama, the appellation of this wine translates to ''tears of God''.
If you're feeling for something stronger, try Glenkinchie 12 year old Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Founded in 1825, this distellery is located in the Lowlands, outside of Edinburgh, which incidentally turns out to be not far from the Lammermuir Hills. The nose is light and the palate fruity with no peatiness.