Stone was further honing the details in recent rehearsals, with a meticulous eye on turntable speed and whether any of the singers should wear a jacket instead of a cardigan. With such specificity, Gelb said, “it’s a show that’s going to keep the Met on their toes.”
Still, Stone said, he eventually had to take a step back and make room for the music. The conductor, Riccardo Frizza, said he wanted to live up to the production by bringing out “the modernity of this score”, favoring transparency and emphasizing certain words from the libretto. At the same time, he also sought to balance the sound of the orchestra to resemble the historically informed approach he takes to the Donizetti party in Bergamo, Italy, where he is the musical director.
When a performance comes together, says Frizza, the score’s lingering themes emerge naturally: “The way Donizetti builds the whole structure around Lucia from the start to the crazy scene – he was a great man of theater, but also an important man to show us the full face of a woman in this opera.
At the very least, her story speaks to the soprano who represents her. “I’ve been through things, like men trying to control my situation or breaking my heart or putting me through a roller coaster of domination versus submission,” Sierra said. “And that’s really what ‘Lucia’ is about.”
Sierra, who has sung the role before, found it easier to perform in a contemporary setting. “It feels more natural than trying to play someone from the 16th century,” she said. “Now I can do Lucia almost like playing myself. I think audiences are going to feel that a bit more strongly than my portrayal of a girl from the past.
It’s one of the reasons why Stone hopes those who come to see the show won’t have a hard time coping with it. He went so far as to call the production conservative for its insistence on clarity.
“I don’t think people need to be shocked by that,” he added, “and I don’t think anyone watches and listens to the music and is there in the moment, rather than stuck in the passed in his mind, won’t have a good time. I’m a show person. I want the audience to have fun.”