Lucia di Lammermoor - Synopsis
Lucia di Lammermoor
Two aristocratic families, the Ashtons and the Ravenswoods, are embroiled in a bloody family feud. Following the death of his father in battle, Edgardo di Ravenswood, the last surviving member of his line, has been driven off the family property. The castle and estates have been usurped by his adversary, Lord Enrico Ashton. In order to prevent his own ruin, Enrico plans to marry off his sister Lucia to the rich and influential Lord Arturo Bucklaw.
Normanno, one of Enrico's officers, orders his men to pursue in the former territory of the Ravenswoods an unknown man who has been seen in the vicinity. In conversation with Normanno and the chaplain Raimondo, Enrico complains that his sister is refusing to marry the one man who can save him. Raimondo tries to explain Lucia's behaviour by pointing out that she is still mourning her mother's death. Normanno, however, informs his lord of his firm suspicion that she is in love with another man, Enrico's mortal enemy, Edgardo di Ravenswood. The returning men confirm this suspicion: the unknown man was indeed Edgardo. Enrico is beside himself with rage.
While waiting for Edgardo, Lucia tells her lady-in-waiting Alisa of a vision she has had. She imagined she saw a ghost beside a spring in the castle grounds at exactly the same spot where, according to an old legend, an ancestor of the Ravenswoods is supposed to have murdered his mistress. Alisa interprets the vision as a bad omen. Lucia can think only of Edgardo and pays no heed to Alisa's warnings. Edgardo enters. He wants to take his leave of her for a longer period of time, because he has to go abroad on a political mission. Before departing however, he intends to ask Lucia's brother for her hand in marriage, which would also settle the family feud. Well aware of her brother's implacable hatred, Lucia tries to dissuade Edgardo from his plan. She succeeds in placating his outburst of anger. Both swear eternal fidelity before God, exchange rings as a sign of their inseparable love, and promise to write to each other.
With Normanno's help Enrico has worked out a plot to carry through his marriage plans for Lucia. In order to bend her to their will, they have intercepted the lovers letters and have replaced them with a forged one which suggests that Edgardo has been unfaithful.
Enrico has summoned Lucia and informs her that her betrothed Arturo will be arriving that same evening. He insists on a swift decision and presents Lucia with the forged letter. Edgardo's apparent infidelity plunges her into despair. Raimondo pressures her in the same vein as her brother and demands that she make this sacrifice for the good of the Ashton family. They finally succeed in breaking down Lucia's resistance. As if paralysed, she resigns herself to her fate.
Lord Arturo Bucklaw arrives at Ravenswood Castle and basks in the acclamation of the wedding party. He guarantees that the Ashton family will henceforth continue to flourish. As a precaution Enrico asks him to show patience with his sister's depressed mood, who, he says, is still in mourning over her mother's death. Lucia is instructed once again by her brother and finally forced to sign the marriage contract. At this very moment Edgardo forces his way into the hall and claims his rights as the legitimate bridegroom. On being shown the signed marriage contract, however, he rips the engagement ring off Lucia's finger, curses her love and threatens to wreak his revenge on the whole house.
Edgardo spends the night in the tower of his ruined castle. A storm rages outside. Enrico forces his way in and taunts his adversary until Edgardo challenges him to a duel. It is to take place the next morning beside the graves of the Ravenswood family.
Meanwhile, at Ravenswood castle, the wedding party continues after the bridal couple has retired. The festivities are rudely interrupted by Raimondo who reports that Lucia has murdered her bridegroom in their wedding bed. Lucia appears calmly before the horrified guests. In her mental confusion she conjures up scenes from the past. She thinks once again that she sees the ghost by the spring who wants to separate her from Edgardo. She evokes visions of Edgardo and sees herself finally united with him before the altar. Enrico returns and Lucia in a moment of mental clarity, accuses him of being solely responsible for the murder. No longer aware of her surroundings, she calls out repeatedly for her beloved Edgardo and longs to be reunited with him in heaven.
Edgardo is waiting for Enrico beside the graves of his family. He still believes that Lucia is at fault. In his despair he hopes to perish in the duel. Then he learns that Lucia is dying. But before he can hurry to her, he hears the tolling of the death knell, and Raimondo appears with the news of her death. Edgardo now realises that her love for him was true and he stabs himself before he can be stopped. As he dies, he expresses the wish to be reunited with Lucia in heaven.
Translation: Christopher Balme© Bayerische Staatsoper