Annick Massis has performed the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor numerous times. But she’s lost none of her fascination with the musical and dramatic complexities of the character.
“She is fragile, but also very strong. She is mad, but normal,” declares the French soprano. “She is living in a time and place when women have no power. And everyone betrays her—Enrico, even Edgardo and Raimondo. So to go mad feels right.”
Massis also sang the role at the Met in 2002, becoming the first French soprano to do so since Lily Pons. But she is eager to recreate it in Mary Zimmerman’s staging—which she will do on October 17, 20, and 25. “When you have a new production, there is a new energy that’s very exciting!”
She especially appreciates Zimmerman’s openness to performers’ ideas. And she looks forward to exploring her chemistry with the cast, in particular during Lucia’s two duets—the first-act love scene with Edgardo and the second-act confrontation with Enrico—which she feels are crucial musical and theatrical counterpoints to each other.
With such dramatic riches before her, she is vigilant about not getting carried away vocally. “You must always be thinking,” she explains. “Otherwise you will come to the end, and… !!”
The end she’s referring to is Lucia’s famous mad scene, at which point she feels that she must hold nothing back. “It is an honor to perform a mad scene,” Massis says, her eyes glowing with enthusiasm. “You are giving yourself totally to the audience, and they are giving themselves to you. It is a very powerful communal experience, a privileged moment.” —Ellen Keel