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Lucia di Lammermoor

Donizetti’s compelling romantic drama Lucia di Lammermoor is an example of the bel canto school of 19th-century Italian opera.

Based on Scottish novelist Walter Scott’s The Bride of Lammermoor, the opera traces rival families, thwarted love and unhealthy obsessions in a powerful tale of an innocent woman manipulated by the men in her life.

ENO Performance History

2018/19 Season

2009/10 Season

2007/08 Season

Book

Read the introductory guide to Lucia di Lammermoor

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Synopsis

The action takes place in Scotland during the nineteenth century.

Act I The Parting

Scene 1 Ravenswood Castle

Enrico Ashton’s family fortunes are in jeopardy. Only his sister Lucia can salvage the situation by means of an expedient marriage. Normanno reveals that Lucia is in love with Edgardo, laird of Ravenswood. The Ravenswoods were ousted by the Ashtons and their ancient estate is now in Enrico’s possession. Edgardo lives on the edge of the estate in the ruins of a castle and has been seen having secret trysts with Lucia. Enrico vows to end the affair and destroy his enemy.

Scene 2

Accompanied by her companion Alisa, Lucia awaits Edgardo. She conjures up the image of a fountain where a jealous Ravenswood ancestor once killed his lover. She has recently seen the ghost of the murdered young woman, which Alisa interprets as an ill omen for Lucia’s love affair with Edgardo. Lucia, however, dismisses her friend’s warning.

Edgardo arrives and tells Lucia that he must soon leave for France in order to form an alliance to fight the cause of Scotland. Before he goes he wants to extend the hand of friendship to Enrico and ask for Lucia’s hand in marriage. This frightens Lucia, who prefers to keep their love secret. Although Edgardo detests Enrico, who killed his father and stole his inheritance, he is prepared to put vengeance aside so he can be united with Lucia. The two affirm their love for each other.

Act II The Marriage Contract

Scene 1 Enrico’s apartments in Lammermoor Castle

Enrico nervously awaits the marriage that he has hastily arranged between Lucia and Lord Arturo Bucklaw, but is concerned that Lucia may oppose it. Normanno, however, has a plan: he has been intercepting Edgardo’s letters and has forged one supposedly revealing that Edgardo has been unfaithful to Lucia. When Enrico shows her the letter, Lucia is distraught. Sounds of welcome are heard in the distance: it is Arturo arriving for his wedding to Lucia.

Raimondo tells Lucia that, although letters to her lover were intercepted, he has managed to have one of them safely delivered. He takes Edgardo’s apparent failure to reply as proof of his infidelity, and forces Lucia to do her brother’s bidding and marry Arturo.

Scene 2 The Great Hall of Lammermoor Castle

Wedding guests have assembled to welcome Lord Arturo Bucklaw. Enrico warns him not to be concerned by Lucia’s sad demeanour, as she is still grieving for their mother. Lucia enters and is forced to sign the marriage contract. Edgardo unexpectedly arrives. He is challenged by Enrico and Arturo who demand that he leave, but Edgardo insists on his right to be present. When Raimondo produces the signed marriage contract, Edgardo denounces Lucia.

Interval of 20 minutes

Act III

Scene 1 A ruined tower

A fierce storm is raging. Edgardo is confronted by Enrico, who savagely torments him with the news that Lucia is in the marriage bed with her new husband. Both challenge each other to a duel at daybreak in the graveyard at Ravenswood.

Scene 2 The Great Hall of Lammermoor Castle

The celebration of the wedding guests is abruptly halted by Raimondo: he tells them that Arturo has been murdered by Lucia. When Lucia enters, she is clearly out of her mind. She plays out a fantasy of a wedding with Edgardo until, physically and emotionally exhausted, she collapses. Enrico is filled with remorse. Raimondo rounds on Normanno as the cause of this bloodshed.

Scene 3 The graveyard of the Ravenswoods

Among the tombs of his ancestors, Edgardo awaits Enrico’s arrival. Believing that Lucia was unfaithful, he reflects on the emptiness of his life and how death would be a welcome release. Lammermoor retainers tell him that Lucia is close to death and is calling for him; before he can leave to be with her, Raimondo brings news that she has died. Wishing only to join her in death, Edgardo kills himself.