Lucia di Lammermoor in Kaunas

I was in Lithuania for my first visit to Kaunas, the country’s second city. The local theatre, which is best known for operetta and musicals, had on offer a bel canto tragedy, Lucia di Lammermoor. How would it fare? The answer is, pretty well. In the first place there was the straightforward but effective production of Dalia Ibelhauptaité and Gediminas Šeduikis. Though traditional in style, it had some surprising aspects, for example the incestuous gropings of Lucia by her brother Enrico. So also when she and Edgardo in rapture threw themselves on the floor and sang their duet in a horizontal embrace. Then there was the tiered abstract decors of the Romanian Andu Dumitrescu which, together with the striking lighting design for which he was also responsible, created a strong profile for the moments of high drama.

The conductor Julius Geniušas maintained a steady, sensitive pulse for the orchestra, driving the music forward when called for. With his warm bass, the Raimondo Tadas Girininkas made much of his aria in Act Three, but though the other male soloists acted with conviction, their vocal contributions were below par. Mindaugas Zimkus as Edgardo had problems of pitch, and the baritone of Stanislas Trifonov, a guest from Belarus, while suitably fierce and sinister as Enrico, was not well focused in the higher register. This leaves all the accolades for the Lucia, Gitana Pečkytė, the single true star of the evening. With a mastery of the coloratura style, accuracy in the high-lying runs, and a lustrous tone for the fortissimo passages, she was also able to inject dramatic significance into her phrasing. Yes, even when you’re well away from the well-beaten opera tracks, you can sometimes encounter performances which have you on the edge of your seat.