2 years, 7 months ago 1
Posted in: Blog
Adding a little more madness to Lucia

Engineers Club Artist-in-Residence Baltimore Concert Opera brings a little
madness to the Mansion with its upcoming performances of Donizetti’s Lucia
di Lammermoor
in March.  In addition to world-class singing, audiences
will have the opportunity to hear a rare and beautiful instrument, the glass
armonica.

Inspired by a 1761 performance in which a musician made glass goblets ring
by rubbing the rims with his fingers, Benjamin Franklin set about inventing
an instrument based on the principal.  Franklin’s glass armonica included
37 tuned glass bowls turned on their sides and attached to a rotating
spindle.  The sound resulting from rubbing the rims of the bowls with
moistened fingers was so alluring that many ascribed magical powers to the
instruments, saying that it could make women faint and even bring the dead
back to life.

In 1835, Donizetti decided that the ethereal, otherworldly tones of the
glass armonica were the perfect accompaniment for the now-famous “Mad
Scene” in *Lucia di Lammermoor*.  Alas, legend holds that, shortly before
the opera’s premiere in Naples, the theater became embroiled in a
contractual dispute with its glass armonica player, and Donizetti was
forced to re-score the scene for solo flute.

Dennis James, playing the Glass Armonica

Dennis James, one of the world’s preeminent glass armonica players, has
been instrumental in restoring Donizetti’s original vision.  Mr. James has
been performing his own restoration of the “Mad Scene” since 1995, and in
March 2011 recorded the scene accompanying Natalie Dessay in the title role
for a “Live at the Met” theatrical broadcast.  Baltimore audiences now have
the opportunity to hear *Lucia* in its entirety, complete with the fully
restored glass armonica accompaniment, when Mr. James accompanies soprano
Sharon Cheng with the Baltimore Concert Opera.  Performances will be
Friday, March 23 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, March 25 at 3:00 pm.  Tickets range
from $25 to $65, and dining options are available.  See
http://www.baltimoreconcertopera.com for more details and to purchase
tickets.

One Response

  1. John Bowen says:

    Congrats on getting a glass armonica player! When Opera Vivente produced a staged version in 2010, we tried unsuccessfully to get one of these elusive instrumentalists to play for the show. It really does add an extraordinarily eerie element to the Mad Scene.

Leave a Reply