Stone was still refining the details in recent rehearsals, with a meticulous eye on the speed of the turntable and whether one of the singers should be wearing a jacket instead of a cardigan. With such specificity, Gelb said, “it’s a show that’s going to keep the Met on its toes.”
Still, Stone said, he eventually had to step back and make room for the music. The conductor, Riccardo Frizza, said that he was aiming to match the production by bringing out “the modernity of this score,” with a focus on transparency and emphases on certain words in the libretto. At the same time he, was also seeking to balance the orchestra’s sound to resemble the historically informed approach he takes at the Donizetti Festival in Bergamo, Italy, where he is the music director.
When a performance snaps into place, Frizza said, the score’s enduring themes emerge naturally: “The way Donizetti builds the whole structure around Lucia from the beginning to the mad scene — he was a great man of theater, but also one important for showing us the whole face of a woman in this opera.”
At the very least, her story speaks to the soprano portraying her. “I’ve been through things, like men trying to control my situation or break my heart or put me through a roller coaster of dominance versus being submissive,” Sierra said. “And that’s really what ‘Lucia’ is about.”
Sierra, who has sung the role before, has found it easier to interpret in a contemporary setting. “It’s more natural than my trying to play someone from the 16th century,” she said. “Now I can do Lucia almost like playing myself. I think the audience is going to feel it a little bit stronger than my portraying a girl of the past.”
That is among those reasons Stone hopes that who come to see the show will not struggle with it. He went so far as to call the production conservative for its insistence on clarity.
“I don’t think people need to be shocked by it,” he added, “and I don’t think anyone who is watching and listening to the music and being there in the moment, rather than stuck in the past in their mind , won’t have a great time. I’m a show person. I want the audience to have fun.”