SYNOPSIS of Donizetti’s LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR
by Judy Vander Heide
Setting: Scotland, 1700s, Ravenswood Castle in the District of Lammermoor
Normanno, gamekeeper and headhuntsman (or “ghillie,” as the Scots say), has been sent with his men by Enrico, master of Ravenswood, to apprehend a stranger who has been lurking about the castle grounds. Enrico soon joins the men and shares with Normanno his apprehension about his family’s declining fortunes. He plans to coerce his sister, Lucia, into an advantageous marriage with Arturo, the only person who can assist Enrico in overcoming his political rival, Edgardo, the former master of Ravenswood.
Lucia is adamantly opposed to the marriage and is defended by Raimondo, a Presbyterian cleric who stoutly asserts that Lucia is hesitant because she is grieving for her recently deceased mother. Normanno blurts out the truth: Lucia, every morning at dawn, has been secretly meeting Edgardo, with whom she has been deeply in love ever since he rescued her from a charging bull.
Lucia, accompanied by her maid, Alisa, waits for her rendezvous with Edgardo by a haunted fountain.
Although Alisa encourages her to abandon Edgardo, Lucia vehemently asserts her allegiance and refuses to forsake him. When Edgardo arrives, he proposes to approach Enrico to ask for Lucia’s hand in marriage, but Lucia insists that their engagement be kept a secret. They exchange rings and promises.
Months have passed, and the wedding of Lucia and Arturo is at hand. Devious Normanno has intercepted letters between Edgardo and Lucia. He also presents a forged document addressed to Lucia, purportedly from Edgardo, stating that he loves another. Lucia crumbles when Enrico threatens himself bodily harm if she does not comply with his demands and describes the dire fate which will befall him if she refuses to marry Arturo. And so the marriage contract is placed before her; even the kindly chaplain, Raimondo encourages her, insisting that she has no alternative. She signs. Now she meets her future bridegroom, Arturo, for the first time. At this unpropitious moment, Edgardo arrives to claim Lucia as his bride, asserting that they are engaged. When Raimondo shows him the signed marriage contract, Edgardo snatches the ring from her finger, curses her faithlessness and leaves in a fury.
Joyous wedding guests celebrate the marriage of Arturo and Lucia. The festivities are interrupted when Raimondo enters with the stunning news that Lucia has stabbed Arturo to death and descended into madness. Enter Lucia, bathed in blood, dagger in hand, babbling about her forthcoming marriage to Edgardo, stating that she will see him in heaven.
Enrico enters,furious with Lucia for ruining his plans, but once he realizes that she has gone mad, is overcome with pity and remorse. Lucia loses consciousness, and dies later that evening. At Ravenswood cemetery, Edgardo awaits his duel with Enrico. When he learns of Lucia’s tragic death as Lucia’s funeral cortege passes by, he is inconsolable and stabs himself, vowing he will meet his beloved in heaven.
Judy Vander Heide is the president of the Ogden Opera Guild, which supports Utah Opera. She also serves on the boards of Utah Symphony | Utah Opera and Opera Volunteers, International and is a proud member of the Crescendo Society of Utah Opera.