Students from Professor John Bugg’s Interdisciplinary Capstone Course, “Romanticism and Revolution,” paid a visit to the Metropolitan Opera on Friday, April 10. They saw a performance of Donizetti’s 1835 opera Lucia Di Lammermoor, an adaptation of Sir Walter Scott’s historical novel The Bride of Lammermoor (1819).
Dressed up for the occasion, students in the class convened outside Lincoln Center to enjoy the typical buzz of the Met before any highly-anticipated performance. For those in the know (Professor Bugg’s class included at least one former opera performer!), the reputation of the remarkable singers in the production was cause for excited anticipation. For those paying their first visit to the opera, the beauty of Albina Shagimuratova’s performance of the Lucia Di Lammermoor’s famous aria (“Il dolce suono”) came as a welcome surprise.
Students learned first-hand the way in which a “bel canto” opera—the name for the “beautiful” singing style popular in early-to-mid nineteenth century Italian operas like Donizetti’s—could still grab an audience and command rapt attention, particularly in the climactic “mad scene” that Shagimuratova handled with such virtuosity, both as a singer and as a stage performer.
Like many productions at the Metropolitan Opera, the running time of Lucia di Lammermoor was nearly four hours. The show featured two intermissions, and showcased the best set designs, costumes, and some of the finest symphony and vocal performers the world has to offer. And the students encountered a reverse example of the British Romantic’s fascination with Italy (in this case, an Italian composer fascinated with the British Isles).
Students also built new connections with their fellow students and gained a new appreciation of their close access to the cultural treasures of New York. In recent years, under the directorship of Peter Gelb, the Metropolitan Opera has worked with great effectiveness to keep opera relevant to a new generation, introducing live broadcasts of Met performances in movie theatres around the world. Luckily, for Fordham students, such second-hand measures are not necessary and some of the world’s greatest opera is only a block’s walk--or a Ram Van’s ride--away.